Young boy cuddled up next to his cow at state fair is totally heartwarming
Bonds between humans and unconventional animals are the best. We all have our cats and our dogs, but some among us are great friends with lizards, horses, sheep or cows. Dogs view human beings like their parents, or even like Gods, living in awe of their owners. Cats, ever the skeptics, don't feel quite the same way, though if we're willing to reach out, they don't mind.
A boy and his cow could be the star of a Studio Ghibli movie, or a remake of Charlotte's Web. But for 15 year old Mitchell Miner, this is just his everyday life. He is great friends with a cow named Audri, who he has taken to the Iowa State Fair for the annual dairy kettle show.
Taking car of cows is enormously difficult work. Mitchell had to wake up at 3 a.m. to prep Audri for each day's festivities, feeding her, washing her, brushing her skin and washing her perfectly clean. Over the years, this bond must have grown unshakeable.
"She just enjoys my company," said Mitchell humbly when asked about the photo.
After a good effort, and finishing fifth out of seventh in the dairy kettle contest, both Audri and Mitchell were exhausted. It was time for a nap.
"I was asleep. I think she was, too," he said.
Hence, the photo, which had racked up over 15,000 likes in a single day, took place.
The technical term for a show-cow is a heifer, and Mitchell and his heifer are very close. The friendship between a human and a cow seems as likely or unlikely as any other. Some have let lion subs into the wild and met with them years later, and the lions still recognize their owners.
What goes on in a cow's brain? Certainly they feel affection toward humans, casting into dubious moral terms the mass meat packaging industry. I'm not vegan or vegetarian, but it's worth acknowledging that the meat industry is only morally defensible if we believe that animal consciousness is of a completely lower and separate character from human consciousness.
Cows feel compassion, and they rest their giant heads in the laps of their caretakers. They are beautiful animals, which is hard to remember in the chaotic swirl of using them as vats of milk, meat and cheese.
For Mitchell Miner, however, there's nothing that is really odd about his friendship and love for Audri the heifer. It's just the way he lives - close with his cows, they blend into his life, and it's no longer odd for such a relationship to exist.
Heifers are just like dogs for him. They're bigger, they're soft, and they're a lot easier to ride, that's for sure. As for Audri, she'll be back next year with her friend Mitchell to compete once more for the kettle dairy victory.
The Iowa State Fair is full of humans who treat their pets like family. It's a great place for cows to finally get their due. After all, they're pretty cute. Just because they're big and useful doesn't mean they aren't cuddly. They're black and white just like pandas, and people like pandas, don't they?
Well, a cow is a four-legged panda with milk. Rest your head against the belly, and take a doze. It's nice and soft.