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Farm Sanctuary Part Four: Ms. Foreman

This is a continuation of my previous Farm Sanctuary posts (1,2,3). In addition to Riley and Petunia, there were many other residents at the Watkins Glen shelter who made a lasting impact on my life. Over the course of the two months I spent there, I got to know many of the animals personally, and developed a close relationship with them.

The first of these beautiful creatures was a cow named Ms. Foreman. I met her on my first ever trip to Farm Sanctuary, long before my internship. We went on a tour of the farm, and our group walked over to a cow, who was grazing in the middle of a field. She was not the least bit nervous about this cluster of people approaching, and patiently allowed each of us to talk to her and pet her face and back. After a couple minutes of my interacting with her, she stopped eating and began rubbing her face against my legs. It was such a wonderful experience for me. Though I had grown up in the country and seen cows a million times, I had never really gotten to know one.

They are such large animals, much bigger than you realize from looking at them at a distance. Yet, most of the ones I’ve met, and especially Ms. Foreman, have been so remarkably gentle. She easily could have pushed me over, without even realizing it, but she was so aware and compassionate that the thought of her doing anything to hurt me was absolutely out of the question. That meeting with her was the moment that I knew I wanted to get involved with this organization. I knew that I wanted to do anything I could to help other people meet these remarkable beings, and break down all the ideas that society feeds us about them.

I met Ms. Foreman again, when I came back for the internship, but things were different this time. She was no longer able to happily wander the fields and interact with visitors. She had grown old and sick. She had trouble standing, and seemed to be in pain. Eventually it reached the point where, even with help from the staff, she could no longer get up. So, the shelter director called in a veterinarian to euthanize her.

I was there when it happened, and it was simultaneously the most heartbreaking and most beautiful thing I have ever seen. Watching the last moments of this remarkable being, who had impacted my own life, and the lives of so many others, was devastating. Yet, as the vet gave her the injection, she was surrounded by people who loved her. The shelter staff, some of whom had known her for years, as well as interns who had only recently met her, came to her barn to be with her at the end.

I know that Ms. Foreman lived a good, happy life. I know that she was loved every day. And I know that she felt that love around her when her life came to an end. As much as it hurt me to be there that day, I wouldn’t have traded that experience for anything. It showed me what is possible, when people open themselves up to the idea that the lives of nonhuman animals have just as much value as human lives do.

As I stood there with Ms. Foreman, I couldn’t help but think of all the other cows, who had just as much potential for kindness and affection as she did, who would never know the love that she knew. I thought of all of her sisters and brothers who die everyday, not peacefully and surrounded by people who cared for them, but in pain, fear, and loneliness. That was the saddest part of all.

I am eternally grateful to Ms. Foreman for the impact she had on my life. She was a beautiful, kind soul, who I know will be sorely missed by everyone who ever knew her. She changed me profoundly, the first time I met her, and even more so the last time.

Whitney


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