Holy cow, let’s look at some animals

Little Miss and I went to the open house at Tufts yesterday. It was one of those hot sticky days when you really don’t want to be around barnyard animals, but what the heck.

I went to work after this and I told my co-workers about something that completely blew my mind. It has to do with this cow.

Have you ever seen such a sweet brown cow? Take a closer look.

No. That’s not a weird birthmark. That’s a plug. (Edit: it’s called a cannula, see link to article below)

Now, I didn’t take notes during what followed. I didn’t even get a good picture because people were jostling around me for a better view and I was kind of busy picking my jaw up off the ground.

You see, this lovely cow is a donor and, if I remember correctly (and I’m totally emailing Tom at Tufts to get this right), what she donates to other cows are digestive enzymes. And they do this by…

… putting on some long plastic gloves, grabbing a bucket, unplugging the cow to reach into the cow’s stomach and pulling out handfuls of partially-digested grass. This appetizing glop is then squeezed for the nice, juicy enzymes.

She reached into the cow. She reached into the cow. And the cow just placidly stood there. It did shoot her a look at one point like “Do you mind? I was digesting that. Darn it, now I’m hungry again.”

So how did my co-workers respond to this? Rob followed up my story with a description of how to force-feed a baby snake (he breeds them) a baby mouse through a syringe, which included liquification, brains and a bit of lizard rubbing. Then we teased Andy for turning green. I do enjoy my job.

Edit: Tom was kind enough to email me a link to this article explaining the process. Totally worth the click.

Anyway, back to Tufts.

If you’ve never had to take a pet to the Foster Hospital for Small Animals at the Cummings School for Veterinary Medicine, count yourself lucky. It basically serves as the emergency room for dogs and cats and more exotic critters for this corner of the state.

The hospital treats animals that have been hit by cars, have swallowed things they shouldn’t or who have ailments that a general veterinarian might not treat, like cancer. We brought our dog there back in 2001 when he started to have what turned out to be grand mal seizures — epilepsy. He received excellent care there and we were able to keep the seizures under control until he died a few years later of lymphoma.

A trip to Tufts can be pretty scary. Your dog really can’t tell you what’s wrong and you can’t explain to him just why you’re leaving him with these people he’s never met in this place that smells funny.

And if he’s going there for surgery, chances are, he’s going to walk out with casts and oddly shaved patches and maybe even a totally embarrassing head collar. Our dog was always humiliated by the head collar.

There were a bunch of animal rescue groups out in full force hoping that people might be enticed to adopt an animal or become a foster home.

This little guy has no hair on his body. He was right next to a bunch of hairless cats.

I liked the boxers better.

I wasn’t able to get a good view of the sheep shearing, so we hung out with the other sheep (who were totally mocking the one getting sheared) and what I believe were alpacas. Alpacas are both good defense animals and have excellent wool, so it’s not surprising to see them hanging out with sheep.

Why yes, I AM taking your picture, handsome. Thanks for posing!


2 thoughts on “Holy cow, let’s look at some animals

  1. Glad to have you out for the Open House! You got the story right with the cannulation–it’s a little strange to the uninitiated, sure, but it can help really sick cows get healthy again!

    The picture you took is of Preston, one of the three llamas on campus (the other two, in case you’re curious, are Big and Rich). You’re right–he guards the sheep. Llamas have a natural aversion to canids (translation: they hate dogs), so they protect the sheep from the coyotes around here. They’re great protection, and handsome devils, too, eh?

    Let me know if you’ve got any other questions…


    Tom Keppeler
    Associate Director, Public Relations
    Tufts University
    Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine
    200 Westboro Road
    Grafton, Massachusetts 01536
    508/839-7910 desk
    508/887-4292 fax
    617/669-8164 cell

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