WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. - Two blind, aging cows were 350 miles apart, distressed and facing a dark future.
What happened next is a love story starring, not cows, but rescuers who worked across international borders for nearly a month to bring the bovines together.
It started when Sweety, an 8-year-old Canadian cow with a hoof infection, was rescued from the slaughterhouse by a horse sanctuary in Ontario. Workers at Refuge RR put out the word to the small legion of folks devoted to saving aging farm animals that she needed a permanent home.
Farm Sanctuary in New York is just such a place and they had a 12-year-old Holstein named Tricia, who seemed lonely and anxious after losing her cow companion to cancer a year ago. Cattle are herd animals and she was the only one at the shelter without a partner.
“It was exciting to think that by giving Sweety a new life, we might also give Tricia another chance to enjoy her own,” said Susie Coston, national shelter director for the sanctuary.
Tricia, who was born blind, has been at the Watkins Glen, N.Y., sanctuary since 2008, when she was saved from slaughter.
There was red tape galore, medical exams for Sweety and finally a road trip to pick her up Feb. 4 at a veterinary hospital in Lachute, Quebec.
Sweety arrived late that night and had to be given a cloth coat because she had lived in barns her whole life and her fur wasn’t thick enough for the cold.
The two cows mooed at each other from separate corrals before they were united the next day.
Nose to nose, Sweety, tall and bony with a white triangle patch on her forehead, bumped into Tricia, shorter and thicker with black-and-white body swirls. They nuzzled one another.
It didn’t take long for them to become BFFs (bovine friends forever), shelter spokeswoman Meredith Turner said.
Sweety is still bumping into things, but Tricia often guides her clear of obstacles.
They eat and walk together and even bed down in tandem.
Love may be blind, Turner said, but for shelter workers, it was a matter of seeing and believing.