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'Udderly' adorable: Firefighter raises a 1,600-pound pet cow
Most of Curt Foster’s pets like gnawing on bones and running around the yard barking, but one actually goes “moo,” and enjoys eating three oatmeal cookies for dessert every night. And that is no bull.
While having a pet cow isn’t for everyone, Foster, who is a fire inspector for the Rural/Metro Fire Department, said he adopted the now 1,600 pound Black Angus from a friend about six years ago when it was just a calf.
“He never really said what he planned to do with her, so I made him an offer and he took it. Some people have exotic pets. I just happen to have a cow,” Foster said. “I think I just wanted to give her a home. She is a forever pet now. She thinks she is part of the family.”
Foster, who also owns a German Shepherd, a Golden retriever and three Chihuahuas, decided to name his pet cow Baby O. He said since he got her as a calf he chose the name “Baby.” And the “O” stands for orphan, because it’s mother died when it was born, which made it an orphan.
“She is the best guard dog I own. I dare anybody to go into my backyard when I’m not home,” Foster said. “She gets along great with my dogs. The German Shepherd and ‘Baby O’ play together a lot. They chase each other around the yard. They have a good time.”
What people may not know about cows, Foster said, is that they are social animals and like company. They are also actually pretty smart and can learn words, especially their names if you teach it to them. Another advantage to owning a pet cow, he said, is that he doesn’t need to mow the lawn because she grazes in his yard.
Foster said it probably took about two months for him to get close enough to be able to hand feed Baby O, but she eventually came to trust him. Now whenever he is outside she follows him around the yard.
“It was just a matter of trust. She knew I wasn’t going to hurt her,” Foster said.
He said he first realized just how smart Baby O was one day when she got out of the backyard while he was working on a car. He said he heard a clang and the fence rattle, but didn’t think much of it. A couple of minutes later when he turned around she was standing there watching him.
Since the car was on a jack stand Foster said he didn’t want her around it so he tried to put her back in the backyard, but she refused to go. Eventually he said he went inside and got a bottle of beer and used it to coax her into the backyard.
“She actually drank it,” Foster said. “I was surprised. I think it was because of the shape of the bottle.”
Although he didn’t remember hearing a clank or rattle the second time, Foster said Baby O was back out there with him again about 15 minutes later.
“She has probably seen me open and close the gate so many times that she figured out some way in that little mind of hers that she could do it, and she had,” Foster said.
So after putting her in the backyard a second time, Foster hid around the corner of the house and watched as Baby O used her tongue to lift the u-shaped latch on the gate and push it open with her face. After seeing her do that he put chains with spring-loaded fasteners on all the gates.
Foster said he thought he thought he had put an end to Baby O’s wandering, but he was wrong. He said he got a call from a neighbor a few weeks later telling him that she had gotten out of the yard again. He rushed home and found her in a citrus grove across the street eating grapefruits.
“She loves them. I have six grapefruit trees in my yard,” Foster said. “There is no low-hanging fruit on them. The only grapefruits that are left are the ones she can’t reach.”
Eventually they were able to coax her into the backyard, using beer again. And sure enough Baby O had figured out how to open the spring-loaded fasteners. Foster said after that he put pins in the fasteners and she hasn’t gotten out since.
But that hasn’t stopped Baby O from opening things, according to Foster. He said she has also figured out how to open the sliding door on the shed where he stores her alfalfa and other food.
Foster says he feeds Baby O a flake of alfalfa and a cup of oats every night and when she is done eating it she comes to his sliding glass back door and wants three oatmeal cookies for dessert. His friends even come by occasionally so their children can give her the cookies.
Baby O does have one quirk though. Foster said he found out that she doesn’t like women, including his wife, who can’t go back to the area of the yard she is kept.
“She can be a little jealous,” Foster said of his pet cow.
James Gilbert can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 539-6854. Find him on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/YSJamesGilbert or on Twitter @YSJamesGilbert.