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How a dog helped nurse a calf back to health and their unlikely friendship

I will start our story by giving you an idea of what we were facing… On August 28, 2017, Hurricane Harvey had already made landfall and we were starting to feel the affects from the massive storm.  Our area didn’t receive a lot of damage from high winds that most hurricanes can bring.  However, we did encounter some pretty major and devastating flooding.  Houses that normally don’t flood, were under mandatory evacuation.  Families and their animals were being rescued by boats leaving all of their belongings behind.

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Luckily, we built our home high enough to withstand major flooding.  Our pastures will hold water, but our home stayed dry.  A few pastures down from us, they were not as lucky.  Houses started to fill with water and there was nothing anyone could do except evacuate.  Cars floating in ditches and a family actually lost their life at the end of our street.  We were facing indescribable devastation.

Monday, August 28th, we noticed one of our cows had a new born calf.  We typically would not interfere with a mom and her baby.  My husband noticed that the baby wasn’t not nursing from the mom and was in the cold flooded pasture.  The only thing he could do to give her a chance, was to take her from her mom and bring her inside.  A calf needs to nurse from their mom to receive colostrum within the first few hours of them being born.  The calf is born without an immune system, so the antibodies passed down from mom’s milk, keeps them healthy.  This calf did not nurse and was in huge trouble!

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We brought her inside our home and immediately started caring for her.  Her mouth was ice cold, she was wet, shivering from the rain and was lethargic.  It was already a very stressful time considering the devastation all around, and we also had 2 families that were evacuated from their homes staying with us.  Along with the 2 families came 8 more dogs that added to our pack of 7.  Can you imagine having 2 families living with you, everything around you is underwater, 15 dogs and now a new born calf in your laundry room?  Feeling overwhelmed was an understatement.  However, I knew in my heart that this baby was placed in our lives for a reason.  My job was to keep her alive and that’s just what I did.

After laying her in the laundry room, we started warming her up very slowly.  You can not feed a newborn animal if their body temperature is too low.  heating towels in the dryer and a heating pad on low, her temperature finally started to warm up.  My husband was able to drive to the next town over that had 1 store open.  He got her milk replacement  and a bottle.   Later that evening we were able to give her a bottle and she took it pretty well.  I didn’t think she would make it through the night so my hopes were not up at that point.

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I spoke with our vet and informed her of what was going on.  She recommend me to let our dog Sealy in to visit the baby.  So we did just that.  As soon as Sealy started to lick the baby’s face, her eyes opened and her head popped up.  I saw a glimpse of hope in her eyes.  We started letting each dog in to visit the calf.  Sealy would stand over the calf and would lay down beside her that first evening.

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I didn’t realize it then that a special bond was forming right in front of me.  Sealy is also a rescue that we bottle fed. She was found in a ditch in Sealy, Texas with her 5 sisters. They were only a few days old when Sealy came into our lives. The next morning, I went to check on the calf, and she was wide eyed and mooing.  She made it through the night!!!!

My heart was extremely happy! I decided she needed a name if she was going to stick around!! So Harveigh it was! The days following, we had a few scary moments of infections, fevers and trips to the vet.  She was diagnosed with Failure of Passive Transfer and a naval infection. Both of these infections can lead to death very quickly on a newborn calf.

The vet recommended that I keep her inside if possible to allow her immune system to mature. She was not allowed in the barn due contaminated water.  Being around the other cows could also make her sick, so she stayed in our laundry room at night and in her pen by the house during the day.

I continued to let Sealy in with Harveigh to stand in as a companion. The bond grew stronger and stronger every day.  They spent many days together playing in the yard, taking naps and just hanging out.  Harveigh did everything with our dogs.

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Fast forward 6 months later, Harveigh is doing great and is healthy and strong! Her relationship with Sealy is just as sweet and fun to be around. Harveigh is terrified of other cows and will not have anything to do with them.  If she had a choice, she would live inside with our family and just be part of the pack. Haveigh is still able to come inside to say hello to her dog friends and have her hair done.

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She enjoys being outside in her pen close to the house while enjoying her hay and feed.  She is now off the bottle which has been a huge adjustment for her and she is still not happy about that! Our plan for Harveigh is to live in our pasture as a pet and enjoy her life as a cow.

This story was submitted by Tammy Canlon to Positive Outlooks. If you want to check up on how Harveigh is doing today, visit his Facebook page.

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