Thu. Aug 18th, 2022

If John Serrati had been told 10 years ago that one day he would be the proud owner of a cow, he says you could have overthrown him with a feather.

But that day came this summer after his 11-year-old daughter, Zoe Serrati, came face to face with a six-month-old calf named Olive.

“It was love at first sight for her,” said the proud father from Ontario.

Uninterested in showing Olive off in a show ring and teaching her tricks, Zoe instead spent her summer forming an intimate bond and true friendship with the calf. (Submitted by John Serrati)

You could also call it a fateful meeting. Olive was a surplus of the dairy industry on her farm and was to be slaughtered for meat earlier this year. But when Zoe became involved with the youth organization and the 4-H Ontario Calf Club, the farm lent the young girl the calf to use in the organization’s cow shows.

Uninterested in showing Olive off in a show ring and teaching her tricks, Zoe instead spent her summer forming an intimate bond and true friendship with the calf.

“She’s my best friend, I love her so much,” said Zoe, who wants to be a vet when she grows up.

Zoe’s father, John Serrati, says Olive recognizes Zoe and only lets her scratch her neck as she sees in the picture. (Submitted by John Serrati)

After the summer program was over, Olive was to be returned to the farm. Fearing the worst for her, the father-daughter duo were determined to find Olive an eternal home. The couple negotiated a price with the farm, adopted the calf as their own and began searching for a place that would take her in.

“We didn’t want her to be a dairy calf, we just wanted her to live her life,” Zoe said.

John came in contact with Refuge RR, an animal shelter in Ontario. He tells them about their professionalism and care and says that even though the farm was in capacity, the team helped get Olive – through enrollment and physical work – into the Quebec shrine she calls home today.

Zoe and her father have been cutting meat out of their diet since they adopted their new family member, whom John will sponsor for the rest of her life. (Submitted by John Serrati)

Olive days consist of grazing pastures in the Monkey Space shrine in Saint-Jérôme, about 45 kilometers northwest of Montreal. Home to a collection of other animals, including two other calves, a herd of pigs and some horses, the shelter also raises awareness of veganism and the benefits of a plant-based diet.

Zoe and her father are one step ahead after cutting meat out of their diet since they adopted their new family member, whom John will sponsor for the rest of her life.

“It’s been really hard to see Olive then eating meat and technically her,” Zoe said.

“They are not just living beings … but they have a deep ability to love and a deep ability to express emotions,” John said. (Submitted by John Serrati)

While adapting in the kitchen, John said he is determined to stick to vegetarianism as he says it is “pretty hard” to look at meat and not think about Olive. It’s just a way the cow has enriched her life, he said.

Zoe and John take a two-hour trip to the sanctuary every two or three weeks to see Olive and spend quality time with her. John says that Olive not only recognizes Zoe, the animal feels deeply.

Listen: 11-year-old adopts pandemic cow

Quebec AM10:5111-year-old adopts pandemic cow

Pandemic puppies have been a hot topic for the past year. But for a family, they adopted another species of pandemic pet: a cow. Guest host Peter Tardif is joined by a father and daughter duo to find out about their new four-legged friend, whom they rescued from the slaughterhouse. 10:51

“They are not just living beings … but they have a deep ability to love and a deep ability to express emotions,” John said, describing the heartwarming expressions between Zoe and Olive when they are together.

“If Zoe had a bad day, Olive can almost sense it,” he said.

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