My biggest regret of this trip to-date is that I did not charge my phone last night.
Everyday I take a break and go for a walk through the lanes around my cottage. At home I run, but around here it’s cold and rainy and the roads are more like trails and hilly…walking is nicer. The loop takes me ninety minutes or so. I’ve collected quite a handful of canine friends on these hikes.
I have no idea where these dogs live. Every day I find them at a different house. They remind me of me and my neighborhood pals when I was growing up. To a tourist in my little corner of the world, this roving pack of children could belong anywhere. We were in every yard, ours or otherwise, crawling in every tree, on every porch. The world was our playground. These dogs are the same.
So, I’ve made friends with them. There’s also a blind little pot-bellied short-fat (Mr. B-speak for a dog with very short legs and a very round belly) that chases me at the top of the hill. And a black retriever of some kind that resides in my favorite house and tries to shepherd me away every time I walk by.
Beyond the kitties that keep me company in the cottage and the pack of semi-wild dogs, my animal encounters have been fairly limited.
I was taking the last left turn onto the road that connects with my lane and just as I was rounding the curve I see a cow in the road. Not crossing the road, not on the side of the road, just standing stock-still in the middle of the road.
It stared at me.
I stared back.
Everything I was ever told as a kid came back “Livestock are not pets. They do not want to be your friend.” I stood a little longer and then decided that I was never going to make it home if I just kept staring blankly at cattle. So, I went around. The cow (I actually don’t know if it was a cow. I don’t know what gender this animal was. I don’t know the proper name for it. I’m just going to keep calling it a cow.) turned its head to watch me and it’s body followed. I watched it over my shoulder as it took a few steps after me, and I scampered along. All I could think is that the one thing I did not need today was to get rammed by a cow in the middle of rural Ireland.
Well, the cow scampered after me. It followed me at a trot. I cannot imagine what this must have looked like–I was running down the middle of the road (albeit a small road), followed by a cow running after me. I was out of breath mainly because I was giggling so hard I couldn’t keep running.
I stopped, turned around, hands on knees to catch my breath. “Are you kidding me?”
The Cow stopped too and looked at me. I took a few tentative steps. So did it.
“You CANNOT come home with me, ” I said over my shoulder. She (let’s just call it a she) kept following me as though she was pretty sure she could find a nice place to cozy up at my house.
I wasn’t sure what to do. I debated walked up to the nearest house and knocking on the door, but then I just couldn’t imagine what I’d say. Excuse me, are you missing some livestock? Because it’s trying to follow me home. The locals already know me. When I go to the pub, people I’ve only seen once ask me how my book is going. I’d forever be that American chick who had a cow following her around.
So, I just kept walking. I sorta hoped maybe a car would come along so that i could point at my new friend and ask if this was normal.
We passed Pot-Belly’s house and he barked and chased the sound of us and the cow began running at a gallop to get away. And then, out of nowhere, she turned and walked into someone’s front yard. She walked right past the front window of their house and over to the gate to the pasture and stood there. She looked sort of forlorn standing there, gazing out at her cattle-friends, unable to get back in.
I stood for a second and debated. Should I knock on their door? Point at the obvious and say Hey, brought your cow home for you. I decided that ultimately, someone else was better equipped to help this rogue piece of livestock than me. And maybe it’s not that weird to have a cow in the road, really. Just a few days ago I saw a herd of sheep run down my lane.
So, I left her. I ran into a couple more of my dog friends on the last leg home and they sauntered up for a pat and then went on their merry way.
I really wish I’d had my camera.