I love cattle. Always have, but it’s not the same love I have for the dog or the horse. Cows are not cuddly, if you know what I mean?
What caused me to think deeply about this most important relationship of all, love, was the neighbor’s new puppy, Chrissie. For some reason Chrissie seems to like me, as hard as that may be for some folks to believe. I’ll admit I can be a surly curmudgeon at times but I’ve always felt that any dog that doesn’t love me has a personality disorder. As the deceased writer Lewis Grizzard used to say, “Good dogs don’t love bad people.”
From all outward signs, Chrissie seems to be infatuated with me. When my neighbor takes her for a walk if my shop door is open the puppy drags my neighbor in my direction. When she’s let off her leash she runs into my shop, skids on the slick concrete and slides into home. She’s almost as glad to see me as the folks were the time I arrived late to a Little League game with the key to the restrooms. When I got there in the middle of the fifth there was a mad rush in my direction. I’ve never seen so many people that were so glad to see me.
My neighbor paid $1,800 to a breeder in Utah for Chrissie and I NEVER thought I’d say this but I think the pup was worth every penny. She’s a breed I never heard of, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and despite the snobbish name, Chrissie seems down-to-earth, adorable and extremely lovable. She’s got big beautiful brown eyes that would melt the heart of even the most sour soul and I swear, when Chrissie leaves my shop giant tears cascade from those beautiful eyes. (Although I’m told that’s a trait of the breed.) So when the coyotes wail at night I admit I lose some sleep worrying that they or a mountain lion will come and steal my new little friend away.
It’s hard to have this same sort of love for a cow that would kill you, given the opportunity. After all, cows aren’t cute. I don’t know of anyone who sleeps in the same room with a pet cow, or takes it with them wherever they go, like folks do with dogs these days. On second thought, my old friend Hap Magee had an old convertible Cadillac with big fins in which he removed most of the seating so a favorite Longhorn cow could ride in the car with him. I have a picture of it and would have given anything to have seen the look on a clerk’s face at McDonalds when Hap went through the drive-through with the cow to pick up a bag of burgers!
While the love I’ve had for my dog Aussie, Gentleman the wonder horse, and now Chrissie is emotional, my love for the cow is mostly economic. I guess it may not be “love” in the traditional sense, but more of a deep and abiding respect. Along with the bison, has there ever been an animal that has done so much for a society as the cow? Not only do they mow down grass and weeds to reduce fire danger, they fertilize and break up the soil at the same time to make the most of life-giving rains. And they do all this at the same time they are providing milk and meat, the most tasty and satisfying foodstuffs of all. This is not to mention all the other great things the cow provides like leather, medicine and other material goods. Considering her contributions to society the lowly cow ought to be the most celebrated animal of all, not the most criticized.
Some folks have wondered how I can say I Iove an animal that we raise to be eaten but I have no guilty conscience. We birth them, feed them and try to take the best care we can of our cows and give them the best kind of life possible. If it hadn’t been for you and I they wouldn’t even have had a life. All we owe them at the end is a quick, painless and merciful death. Which is probably a lot more than you and I are going to get.