The case of the wandering cow ............. who had no place to go ............... but was finally trusting of people ............... and at long last found pastures and a new home

My name is Mary the Cow ................I wandered a great deal til now...............I promise not to roam ............because I have a new home...........Signed: Miss Mary the Cow


The story appeared in large letters across the front page of the Sunday edition of the Jonesvile Herald, with an explanation of the situation and some curious concomitant circumstances which I, as your impartial local newcast observer, would like to relay to you. So many people and so many threads of discrepant information were involved, that a person living outside this close-knit county might not get a clear impression of what actually happened. Here is a synopsis of the situation drawn from personal interviews and from accounts in the public record, compiled by your faithful news correspondent Hank Wilberforce:

Late in September a cow began to appear coming out of the woods behind the home of Mr. and Mrs. Underwood, longtime residents of Jonesville on a fifty acre tract on the north side of Plainsview Road. The Underwoods notified the local Farm Auction Office asking if they were missing one full size cow, which was answered in the negative. A month later they became worried about the welfare of the cow with a stiff winter expected, and again spoke with the director of the auction house, who offered to have a man come over and shoot the cow, remove it, butcher it properly and give the Underwoods the frozen packaged beef if they would cover just the butchering costs. The Underwoods who were active in the preservation of natural tracts in the state and strong proponents of Animal Rights Legislation, were horrified. Fearing for the animal's health, they began to put out hay and meal for the cow near the door of the barn, hoping to entice her into safety where they could hold her while they were dealing with the out-of-state Animal Rescue League for help. They did the right thing morally in trying to capture the cow but she had different ideas.

During the followings months the Underwoods proceeded in coorespondence with the League, which hoped it could send a professional team to humanely capture and remove the animal to a safe haven on their lovely country estate in Maryland. It was at that time that Dottie suggested to Ron that the cow should have a name, and they quickly settled on the name MARY.

Things dragged on since the League had many emergency cases, one with a tiger and another with an aggressive male chimp, so (they said) with their limited resources they were not sure when they could make a firm date for the cow's removal. But the Underwoods had few other places to turn, so they continued in a protracted correspondence with Arnold Tagliabue, the head of the Farm Animal Rescue Operation. We were interesting following this unusual story and have been able to secure the documentation of their correspondence as follows:

Document I:
     Here is a file of the correspondence relevant to the case of the lost cow MARY. If you read it carefully and search between the lines, you will see that it explains the persistent interests of the Underwood family, and it wold seem to formally close a protracted and complicated situation. There may be other things to add by way of explanation, but it seems best in the interest of personal privacy to leave the obvious conclusions to this curious correspondence unsaid. Hank Wilberforce.

Director of Operations
Farm Animal Rescue League
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Underland

I have your letter about the cow which has wandered and settled into the woods on your land, and want to inform you that this kind of lost animal is very much within the frame of our humanitarian operations. We will be contacting you shortly, and hope that together we can work out a satisfactory solution to your problem.


Arnold V. Tagliabue

Director of Operations
Farm Animal Rescue League

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Underland

I understand your impatience about concluding the cow rescue operation, but I must remind you that we have a long list of such situations to deal with each summer, and hope you will be understanding.


Document II, as reported by Hank. W. :
     On October 27th of this year, I, John Helpsmann and my assistant Gloria Goldenrod, went to the Underwoods' farm in upper New York State near Jonesville. We were warned not to try to discuss the how the situation arose, since that might cause some questions. But with the help of various people whose names we wrote down but lost in the ensuing procedure, we managed to sedate the cow with a dart from Johnie Arrowhead who has a license for bovine sedations, and get her by push and pull into the trailer which we brought up from Maryland. It went well although there were some unexpected twists, but after five hours of coaxing with a basket of rotten apples which Maggie seemed to relish, we got her secured and are now as I am writing this report in my notebook, at last on our way home. It was an exciting experience overall although exhausting, and I am sure we all learned a lot. Cross out Maggie and put in right name over the line.
Signed: John J. H.
Director of Operations
Farm Animal Rescue League

Document III, received at the office of the Farm Animal Rescue League two months later. The office was not sure exactly how to respond to this letter, which was referred to the Secretary of the State Agricultural Commission for further consideration. Further actions does not seem warrant able or possible under the present situation. Signed: Arnold V. Tagliabue

Dear Mr. Tagliabue:

We know you were concerned about the problem with the wandering cow which we brought to your attention a few months ago and want to thank you for your help in resolving this difficult situation. Even the best of intentions can have bad results if they lead to delay.

We thought it best not to bring to your attention another more serious problem which has been appearing on our estate in Jonesville. The old adage "One thing at a time" does have virtue even in our fast moving global society. But now that the cow problem has been taken care of to our mutual satisfaction, we can consider the more serious problem which looms larger in our consideration. I must advise you that time is of the essence in such a case as this.

We have been noticing that our fishpond is losing about half its water each night without any explanation. Watching through the evening as best we can, we have strong suspicion of what is going on, and are positioning our video camera on slow setting to see if we can get a picture of what is happening at the pond. Until we get a picture, our visual sightings of the situation are not sufficient to call on you again to ask for your most serious and humane attention.

Now that you have taken care of the cow situation so well, we feel we can reach you agaiin with information about the another situation which has developed at our place in Jonesville in the last month. Knowing your concern and the expert way in which you handled our cow, I am sure you will be able to help with this also. An elephant is wandering in the woods is coming and down to our fishpond nightly in search of drinking water.


Ron and Dottie Underwood.

William Harris
Middlebury College