What I Learned from a Renegade Cow

It had been raining for nearly a week. The stormy weather off and on and torrential rain which pounded against rooftops was a welcome reprieve from the dry, hot spell – and it effectively soaked every thirsty plant and parched lawn in time for the approach of the holiday weekend.

So, when I woke up this morning to a clearing sky and sunshine, I hooked up my dog to his harness and leash, and off we went for an early morning walk. It was relatively uneventful. There were the occasional stops along the way so that my canine child could unleash his curiosity by sniffing and investigating the grass, and then subsequently peeing at precise points along our walk to heart’s content – even when there was no pee left.

We finished our two-mile trek, and I brought Henley inside so that he could have some water and cool off. I had another round of exercise in me, so I decided to bike the loop instead of running it. It felt like that kind of morning, and I figured why not go with it. It’s a good workout, and I could easily do five miles plus stop at my favorite place to do some deep breathing and stretching.

But I should have known when I saw Mr. Possum in the back yard before 5 am this morning that there was something in the air.

I saw it in his eyes as he stared my half-awake self down. It was as if he was sending out a vibe to all the area animals. Something like, “Hey there, we’ve got a live one here! Let’s mess with her today!”

Mr. Possum was faintly on my mind as I geared up and pulled onto the street to start my ride. I made the first loop without incident taking in the sights, sounds, and smells of the country. As I rode past one of the farms, the sheep were quick to say hello with their loud bah- so loud that it startled me. But I said hello back and kept going. Their nod, or rather prod to the morning was much appreciated. In hindsight, perhaps they were communicating with the others for the best was yet to come.

As I turned back onto the street where I live, I opted for a second round. It was far too pleasant of a morning to stop now. So I crossed the bridge, rounded the corner, and navigated the hill a second time. I exchanged hellos and how are you with the neighbor as she ran by, and I rode past her. I was relaxed, content, and so happy to be outside.

Then I neared the bridge by the dairy farm and turned the corner. Only to come to an abrupt stop at what was staring back at me.

There he stood in the middle of the road. Proud, stubborn, and free. A renegade cow alone on his journey to stupefy all those who pass by. Somehow, he had escaped the field, and I can only imagine he had to cross through the stream to get to the road. I sat for a minute, assessing the situation. I did my best to coax him back to the field from which he fled. After a few iterations of “come on, buddy, you need to turn around and go that way. Go back to your pasture. See, your family is right there waiting for you,” I realized he was one stubborn cow. So, I headed to the farm to find someone, but there wasn’t anyone around.

I quickly headed back, hoping that Mr. Cow had come to his senses and returned to the place from which he came. But I was met by him once again, along with another neighbor out for a run. The neighbor said hello to the cow and me and kept going. Perhaps he thought we were together.

I could only laugh and marvel at the odd turn of events.

Again, I tried to coax Mr. Cow back to the pasture by talking with him and pointing to the field. But it was clear he had other plans – and it didn’t involve going back to see his friends. Instead, he decided to turn around and walk the other way but still obstructing the road and my ability to pass him. So, I maneuvered myself off to the other side of the road and saw a car coming in the opposite direction. The car stopped, and the window opened. A woman, laughing, said, “I wasn’t quite sure what kind of dog that was, and then I realized it was a cow. Holy sh-t!”

We had a lovely chat as we strategized about what to do next, which included both of us trying to reason with the renegade.

Again, I went to the farm, but I was met with only the moos from the other cows trying to convince junior to come home.

I headed back over the bridge and around the corner to check out the situation only to find that Mr. Cow had made his way into the yard across from the farm. I watched as he happily grazed on the tall grass, investigated his surroundings, and relished his newfound freedom.

So, I decided to keep going.

And that’s when it happened.

As I started to zip by him, I saw him kick up and start to run toward me. “Oh, crap!” escaped from my mouth as I tried to figure my way out of this situation. My instinct told me to stop and talk to him, and as I came to a halt, he did too. So I said, “Hey, buddy, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to startle you, and I will go a little slower. You really should go back home. They are calling for you.” And with that, I slowly started to move.

Mr. Cow backed away and turned around.

As for me, I biked like a bat out of hell until I was far enough away. I was grateful that I was on my bike and not running because I bike much faster than I run. At least I had a chance on my bike!

I continued along the loop and went past another farm. This time the sheep were even more talkative than before. And as I slowed down, I noticed one of the sheep trying to climb the gate to get out – and it looked right at me. I shook my head, said, “what is up with you all today?” and kept going although I couldn’t help but wonder if there would be more animal antics.

But all this got my brain thinking, and the lesson seemed pretty clear to me.

Expect the unexpected.

You never know what any day is going to bring, and sometimes you need a renegade cow to remind you that life is full of surprises. And when you least expect it, you might find you are where you need to be – even if it is with an escaped cow, a crazy-eyed possum, and a sheep ready to bust a move.  Whatever the reason for today’s events, it made me laugh and reminded me to be present.

It also led me to write this story. So, all is not lost. And besides, it isn’t the first time I’ve been a part of animals gone wild. After all, there was that time I walked a baby goat down the street in my suit and 3-inch heels. And the time that Moo the cow ended up camping out on our front porch. But I’ll save those stories for another day.


Laura Mikolaitis
Laura Mikolaitis
Laura credits her writing, which laid dormant for years, to her late mom, who always believed in her. Writing unabashedly from the heart and inspired by millions of moments, three tenets of evergreen advice that her mom always shared with her are her guiding principles. Whether it is poetry, fiction, or a personal essay, her love for the written word feeds her mind, body, and spirit. Laura’s creativity also comes to life in her passion for photography. Her ongoing love affair with the moon, her joy for family and friends, her connection to nature, and being a loving canine mom often become some of her best subjects. Laura has held many roles throughout her professional career, including Brand Manager, Project Manager, and Director of Global Business Development and Sales Operations. In addition, she has a background in consumer-packaged goods, manufacturing, and textiles. Laura currently works in biotechnology for Berkshire Corporation as their Product Marketing Manager. She holds a Master of Science degree in Communications and Information Management from Bay Path University and a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from SUNY Oswego. Originally from Northern NY, Laura resides with her husband and canine child in a small town in Massachusetts that captured her heart years ago.

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    • Thanks so much, Sarah! I seem to have a penchant for animal antics and lessons therein. Today I was out on my bike again and came upon a couple of fawns. One was in the tall grass off the side of the road. The other came shooting across the street from the field. Then, they both ran toward me and off into the woods. They were adorable – and had one another’s back.

    • You’re welcome, Jeff. I hope your mother-in-law was okay! Yikes!

      I don’t know what it is with the wildlife, but I was out on my bike earlier today, and I noticed something in the tall grass by the side of the road, so I slowed down. I’m sure glad I did because it was a fawn and was patiently waiting for its sibling who came sprinting out in front of me. And then they ran right past me into the woods! Phew. I’m glad I was alert and stopped.

  1. Oh I was grabbed with suspense.. I waited for the cows appearance and then wanted to know what it would do next! I loved this skillful and visual representation that played out in my mind Laura. I was literally on the road staring at this cow.. lol. And I would be smiling. You never know what is in store. Life is one big adventure! Thank, you so much for this Loved it! 🙏

    • Thanks so much, Paula! It was quite an unexpected adventure, and I’m glad I didn’t have the dog with me walking because I’m not sure how that would have gone over. But, I live in the country so these occurrences happen, and more frequently it seems during the pandemic. Perhaps we are all more aware, including the animals. Today I came upon two fawns who ran right by me and into the woods. Another animal experience, another lesson. They had each others backs.

  2. I love it Laura. Yes, we do not always know what delights and challenges lie in front of us. Many years ago, in the early morning, while walking our-no-longer-with-us pooches, they looked at something and started sniffing? What was it that their superior sense of smell detected? A possum playing, well, possum. As I saw the frozen animal, I screamed and ran back home with my dogs.

    Thank you for sharing!💖

    • Oh my gosh, Darlene! That must have been something. My best friend’s dog once brought her a possum. I might fall over if Henley did that to me. He’s a retriever, so I suppose anything is possible. However, he’s more curious than anything and we taught him as a puppy to sit when he sees people or animals. So, he’s pretty good about doing that. I’m most thankful for it when the skunks are out! Pepe and his family love to troll our neighborhood.

      Thanks so much for being here, Darlene.

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