I understand that such incidents may be extremely rare but they can also be extremely frightening. My own incident happened one Saturday when I decided to take the dogs for a walk. This was back in the days when I had Max and Duke. If you remember Great Uncle Bimbo’s stories or our dogs, you may recall that Max feared nothing and disliked any other dog or human. Luckily for us, it appeared he disliked cows too.
It being the weekend and me having time on my hands, I decided to take the dogs to Chester. I crossed over the river and drove to a public walkway which crosses farmer’s fields and follows the river. It was a warm, summers day and the dogs used to love having a swim and a play in the water. The river bank is a good few foot above the river level so I was wandering along looking for a spot where it was easy to climb down to the river. I found such a spot and the three of us descended to the river level.
I was throwing a ball for the dogs to chase when a swan took a dislike to Max being in his river. He came swimming over towards Max flapping his wings in an aggressive posture. Max didn’t like the look of this swan at all and came swimming back to the bank as fast as he could swim with the swan in hot pursuit. Once he reached terra-firma, he turned around ready to confront the swan. The swan didn’t fancy taking on 42 snapping gnashers and so kept his distance. Max didn’t fancy getting back into the water so we had ourselves a Spanish stand-off. It was quite amusing watching them. Each of them ready for the fight but only on their own terms which was never going to happen. There was no way the swan was coming ashore and Max was steadfastly refusing to go back in the water.
Just in case Max did get hold of the swan, I thought it was best to head back up the bank towards the farmer’s field and away from the psycho-swan. As I turned around, standing above us, was a herd of cows who had probably come to investigate the commotion. We were literally surrounded by these cows with no way of escaping the predicament we were in. I started to climb the bank towards the cows just as they decided they were coming down. If I didn’t do something we were going to get driven into the river.
I decided the only course of action was to set Max onto the cows in the hope he dispersed them and then recall him. “Max, get ‘em!” Max was not an attack dog, that was just the command I used to get him to play-attack traffic cones – his favourite pastime – when we were out on walks. Max took one look at the cows and flew at them, barking and snapping. Luckily for us, the cows decided that discretion was the better part of valour and fled. I recalled Max before he could get the cows and he came back to me with a ‘you ruin all my fun’ look on his face.
I later found out that where we were was the cow’s watering hole. It was the only point in their field where they could get down to the water for a drink and it was a hot day. However, I still do not know what I would have done if I didn’t have Max with me. The Countryside Code says that cows can become aggressive if they feel threatened. It says keep dogs under control and well away from cows especially if they have young calves with them. A spokesman for the National Farmers Union said online, “If walking with a dog, the code recommends keeping dogs on a lead and under close control around farm animals and horses, but to release them if threatened or chased by livestock.”
I followed these guidelines to the letter, keeping my dogs under control and not allowing them to run free around the cattle and we were nowhere near the herd and yet they still decided to come and seek us out.
I suggest you be very careful around cows; they are surprising large when you get up close.
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