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March 21, 2014
The Secret Life of Molly
On Fear
by Hannah Bird

A while back my husband came home with a new cow. He was quite pleased with her. She was a beauty. She had been a steal of a deal at an auction.  He sent me out to look her over.

I agreed that yes, this was in fact a cow. He pointed out her alleged qualities. But while he waxed poetic about Wonder Cow, I noticed she was less taken with him. Much less.

We quarantine new cows. I noticed that during the quarantine that Wonder Cow did not care to make friends. She was not plied by fragrant alfalfa. She didn’t want an apple. She greeted even the slowest of movements with thrashing, the whites of her eyes showing all the way around. She was terrified.

On Saturday night my husband decided it was time to move her in with the other cattle.  We have done this little maneuver about a million times so we were not worried.

We should have been.

Wonder Cow bolted. She bolted hard. Usually the younger kids can easily move cattle. But she did an equation heretofore unknown by cow-kind. She took a whole-hearted run at the youngest kid. And the race was on.

She bolted out of the barnyard with our family hot on her trail. She ran. She ran for her life.

She ran through the fence. She ran through the pasture. She ran through a field. She ran a mile with the kids and my husband chasing her through the snow. They got her to double back. She was headed towards the house and then — she bolted right past. She ran a mile in the other direction. She ran through fences and streets.

So wily and wild was she that she pulled off what no other cow has — she escaped.

My snowy and furious troops stumbled back into the house in the wee hours of the morning. They are not used to losing and I must say they are rather bad at it. The house was full of wet clothes and dark moods.

I got up early the next morning (having not been one of the chasers the night before) and went out to look for Wonder Cow. I looked and looked. We figured it was most likely that she would join another herd. So I slowly drove past every herd of cows. She was nowhere to be found.

We are all accustomed to losing things — keys, socks, and tempers — but I had no idea what the protocol was for a lost cow. I started nervously composing the “lost” flier in my head.

Lost: one cow
Answers to: No one
She should be considered armed and dangerous.

Finally we got word that Wonder Cow had turned up in another herd. She had joined up with a very large herd run by a long-time cattleman. He figured he would just separate her when she came in to feed with the other cows.

He called us again three days later. She had finally come in. He hadn’t been able to separate her but we might be able to load her. And also, he noted, this is a wild cow.

Between the Genuine Old Time Cattleman and my husband and a few spare hands, it took a couple hours to get Wonder Cow loaded into the trailer. During that time she again tried to kill people.

Even loaded up, she didn’t settle. She thrashed in the trailer whenever we came outside. We quarantined her again. She would try to run at the children. She would not be plied with food or even my secret recipe Make-friends-with-cows drink.

She was so afraid of us that she was dangerous. We called the butcher.

Not long after Wonder Cow went to pasture in the freezer we got a new dog. He had be taken in by law enforcement after they found a group of dogs in very bad condition.

New Dog weighed less than half what he should have. And that was with his very long matted hair. We had to shave him, revealing multiple oozing sores. He smelled literally like death.

He was terrified. He shook constantly. He chewed on his leg when he got too distressed. But my husband bundled New Dog up inside his coat. He held him for hours. When he went to bed, I took a turn.

New Dog bolted down his food and went into the corner to throw it up. We started feeding him one piece at a time by hand. He shook some more. He was afraid of the grass and the birds in the trees.

He decided the safest place to be was under my husband’s chair.  We would try to put medicine on and he would run under the chair. Something in the house would bump and he would run to the chair.

He was constantly terrified and he had every reason to be. Life had already been bitterly unfair to this tiny spirit.

But he tried.

New to cuddling and still terrified, he came up with a method of semi-snuggling that involved putting his body on you and hiding his head behind a pillow. Then he would snuggle but not look at you, shaking all the while. And when it was too much he would run to my husband’s chair.

New Dog is truly a new dog now. He learned to play. He learned to be buddies with First Dog. He found about toys and treats. He picked a pretty girl to be his own pretty girl forever and ever. He is rounder. All of the sores have healed. When we pick him up he rocks onto his back so we can rub his belly as we carry him around. He gets snuggled to sleep.

I don’t know if coming to our house is a blessing or a trial. I have had more than one opinion on that in a day myself. By being so afraid that we would hurt her, Wonder Cow ensured that we had to. By being willing to try, New Dog gained a cushy life in a house populated entirely by suckers who think he is the cutest thing on earth.

Perhaps I should remember this.

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