In the days following Hurricane Harvey’s landfall in southeast Texas, Tammy and Ren Canton’s home was at full capacity. Two families had already taken shelter there, and they brought eight dogs between them.
Even though they had no space left, the family couldn’t help but take in another refugee, Harveigh, a calf born several days after Harvey wreaked havoc in their community. But the Cantons’ 10-acre spread in Fulshear was already home to their seven dogs, several retired show heifers and other farm animals. So what’s one more?
The calf had been rejected by her mother, and the Cantons found her just hours after she was born, standing in the cold waters of their flooded pasture, shivering, hungry, and alone.
The calf, dubbed Harveigh, was extremely weak and they doubted she’d survive, but wanted to give her a fighting chance. Bringing her inside the house, they swaddled Harveigh in blankets, and Ren went out to buy some formula from a nearby feed store. The lethargic little calf sucked it right up, and thus began life in the house.
“The few cows we have on our property are old show heifers and their offspring” who pretty much take care of themselves, Tammy said. But raising a newborn “was a whole new experience for me.”
For the first several weeks, Harveigh spent her days roaming around the house and romping with the dogs, having so much fun that she now prefers their company over the cows. And she’s developed an especially close bond with Sealy, the family’s pit bull, who’s gladly “taken over as her care taker” and surrogate mother, Tammy says.
I don’t think they realize that she is a cow and not just a really big dog. Truthfully, I don’t think Harveigh sees herself any different from the dogs.
Harveigh’s almost six months old now and is quickly outgrowing her indoor digs. The Cantons are slowly introducing her to the other heifers so she’ll feel more comfortable around them, and maybe make some friends. But in the meantime, they’ve built a “cow condo” just outside the house where she can eat, drink and comfortably stretch out.
Still, she prefers the life to which she’s become accustomed, hanging out with the fam, playing with the dogs and, of course, snack time. The Cantons know the adjustment will be hard, but it’s necessary under the circumstances. But in the interim, they cherish the time they get to spend with this sweet and affectionate calf, who will “literally lay her head on my lap and be at peace,” Tammy says.
If you can look into an animal’s eyes and see the love they have and the emotions that many don’t give them credit for having, you would fight for their life too.