Late in the summer of 2011, I came across a news story that captured my heart: A cow named Yvonne escaped her farm in Bavaria a day before she was scheduled for the meat packer and was on the run.
Locals reported the stealthy bovine was either craftily or luckily avoiding tranquilizer darts and the calls of an amorous bull. There was even a reward for her safe capture and pardon from the butcher’s block.
I’ve had missing cow patients before. Or perhaps I shouldn’t say missing. Like Yvonne, these cows are present — we knew where they were. We just couldn’t catch them.
Sometimes these situations require a mere glance, as in me taking a peek from afar and saying: “Yep… She doesn’t look like she’s calved yet…” And sometimes these situations require back up for closer inspection.
A few times I’ve assessed the cow-catching situation and concluded the owners simply do not understand that their cow (or heifer, or bull, or steer) will NOT, no matter what bribery is attempted, come into the barn with the likes of ME standing around. Sometimes these owners need to catch the bovine days ahead of time, and sometimes these owners need to borrow certain cow-catching equipment from friendly neighbors.
Sometimes the cow is too crazy for anything and the whole thing is called off.
About twice a year a client will ask if I carry a tranquilizer gun and about twice a year I wish I had one. Then I remember that I have absolutely no reason to believe I’m a good shot and visions of me atop a silver steed professionally aiming my trusty tranq gun at the cantankerous cattle evaporate as quickly as they’ve been created. I’ve heard tranq guns are usually more trouble than they are worth and I believe that statement to be quite true and only uttered by those who honestly know about them.
“Missing” goats are much easier to deal with than cattle. Usually missing goats just means hard-to-catch goats, which means welcome to Dr. Anna’s Goat Wrangling Hour. This can go one of two ways, each at opposite ends of the spectrum.
Scenario A: Dr. Anna runs around utilizing her knowledge of goat psychology and her skills of fine motor control and cat-like reflexes to grab goats by the horns, legs, ears, whatever she can grab, and then wrestle the beast to the ground, grimy and sweaty but victorious.
Scenario B: Dr. Anna runs around utilizing her knowledge of goat psychology and her skills of fine motor control and cat-like reflexes to attempt to grab goats by the horns, legs, ears, whatever she can grab, and then wrestle the beast to the ground, grimy and sweaty but to only come up empty handed, grimy, sweaty, and highly irritated as the goats stand just out of reach with very smug looks on their faces.
I never followed up on the story of Yvonne, so I can’t report whether she was ever caught or pardoned. I just know I felt sorry for the vets involved in catching her as I’m sure this was an exercise in futility. Yvonne, on the other hand, I’m sure was finding all attempts at her capture very humorous.
Dr. Anna O'Brien