Early in 2010, I remember my friend Mia telling me about a new cow that came to live at for the Animals sanctuary. Her name was Hope and she was different from the other bovines that came to the sanctuary because she was 3 years-old when she arrived. So unlike the others, she spent years on a dairy farm getting brutalized by the farmers that were trying to repeatedly impregnate her. You see on a dairy farm humans manually impregnate the cows in pens that the dairy industry itself coined the "rape rack". Hope was afraid of humans and rightfully so. Once the sanctuary was able to save her, it took a lot of patience and love to try to earn her trust. Hope was extremely sensitive to anyone touching her hind area, even someone brushing up against her would send her running away. Getting her in an enclosed area to give her medication or vaccines was, and still is, impossible. Too many bad memories... Too much fear. Imagine being so afraid of being tormented that you would jump over a 6' fence from a standing position just to get away from it... then imagine that you weigh 2000 pounds. I can only imagine what she endured and how horrible it made her feel for her to be able to do just that. Hope jumped over a 6' fence from a standing position to get away.
Now I didn't visit the sanctuary until March of 2010, and Hope was there for about 3 months then. Although she was slowly coming around to Debbie and Steve, the sanctuary's founders, she was still very much afraid of visitors. On my visit, Debbie and I walked out onto the pasture to where the animals were so I could see Hope and Amy, the newest rescued calf from the same dairy farm Hope came from. Hope was lying down on the grass when we got there. Debbie told me that she was likely to run when I approach her so I shouldn't be surprised. After being in the pasture for a little while I decided to try to say hello to Hope, and if she wanted to get away that would be fine. I walked towards her slowly and then when I was a little closer got on my knees to approach her from a less domineering position. To my and Debbie's surprise I was able to come all the way toward her and even brush my hand against her beautiful face. The feeling that this girl, filled with fear, trusted me enough to let me close enough to touch her almost made me cry. After experiencing only bad from humans, Hope was trying to forgive and let these new people into her life. She is stronger than anyone I know. I can not name a single living being that has been through what she has and was still willing to give someone else another chance.
I know I have been hurt many times in the past, not in the same brutal ways Hope has of course. And even I have a hard time letting people in. If I had to endure only torture and pain for years, for my entire life, I don't believe I would have her strength. She is my inspiration. If she can be strong enough to forgive and try to trust again, well, maybe I can too. So many people think they can only learn from each other. I have learned more from animals than anyone would ever imagine. I wish people would realize how their "personal decisions" to consume meat and dairy products affect innocent lives... Hope is one of billions. She is still working on trusting us all, and getting better every day. Billions of others did not and will not have the same opportunity to heal.
for the animals,
p.s. And by the way... Hope came from a "family" dairy farm, not those giant factory farms that most people think are the bad places. There is no way a living being can be used as a product and treated "humanely". All of our decisions have flesh and blood consequences.