What’s the biggest dog you’ve ever seen? Was he an Alaskan Malamute? A Siberian Husky? A Great Dane? An English Mastiff? An Irish Wolfhound? In southern Africa, there is a breed called the Rhodesian Ridgeback that can take down a lion. They all look like pups in comparison to a Jersey. I don’t mean the kind you wear! I mean as in Jersey cattle. A bull named Mack, specifically. No, not a bulldog, but a bull with hooves and horns. But, you say, a bull is not a dog! Well, try telling that to Mack!
There is a popular trope in fiction known as “All Animals Are Dogs.” The reason for it is possibly because dogs are easy to identify with. It’s mostly found in movies and TV shows directed at children. Disney in particular has a tendency to make ungulates act like dogs in their films. (As Bullseye from Toy Story 2 is a toy horse, maybe we can overlook that.) Granted, Disney hasn’t done much with cattle. (Home on the Range does not exist! You imagined it!) However, it’s not too far fetched for cattle to have some dog like behaviors. Both species are very social and work well in groups. Mack, for example, is quite the chummy fellow. Hardly the “bull in a china shop” most people would expect.
OK, How Did This Happen?
Oconee County Animal Control hadn’t quite expected it either. They are nothing too fancy. They’re just a shelter that, as their logo suggests, a shelter for homeless dogs and cats. Their stated mission is to prevent cruelty to animals primarily by providing shelter for unwanted animals. Well, a bull fits under the category of “animal”. Volunteers frequently made trips out to Seneca to pick up cats and dogs, but this was the first time they had to take in a bull. According to the officials, “From the time he arrived at Oconee County Animal Control, Mack made it clear he wanted attention and would follow volunteer dog-walkers to get a sniff from the pooch and a pat from the human. His ‘puppy dog’ eyes made it easy for staff and volunteers to fall in love.” Finding a place where such a bull could be not only safe but happy was not going to be an easy task, but it was made a priority.
Just How Big is Mack?
All puns based on a hamburger whose name is a registered trademark aside, Mack is actually pretty small as bulls go. Mack weighs about one thousand pounds. An adult jersey bull is typically between 12,000 and 1.800. However, Mack is only two years old and so has probably not reached his full adult growth yet. In ideal conditions, a bull will reach his full growth at age four. Still, a thousand pounds is much bigger than your average dog. Jersey cattle are known for having a gentle if curious temperament. While the cows are known to be docile, the bulls are typically aggressive. Mack must be in touch with his feminine side! Like all cattle, Jerseys enjoy being part of a herd. Mack is indeed quite gentle and curious as well as gregarious. However, his need for company is not particularly choosey. He likes to follow dogs around as if he were one of them and he loves people. He will follow them around and insist on a head pat like a big friendly dog.
How Is Mack Doing Now?
He’s feeling mooooovalous! Oconee County Animal Control and Oconee Humane Society with a little help from Last Chance Animal Rescue, based in South Hampton, New York, all succeded in finding Mack his forever home. It had to be someplace where Mack would not only be safe but he would get the attention and care he craves. As of 3:00pm on March 4th, rescue’s sanctuary in Carlisle, South Carolina has been Mack’s new home. Mack is a handsome fellow, if a bit on the lanky side as bulls go. His hide is a sable color that contrasts nicely with the gold blond topknot of fur on his head. His horns are on the short side, if rather pointy and spread broadly. (They may grow as he ages.) Like all Jersey cattle, he has that distinctive white ring around the end of his muzzle. He likes long walks and pats on the head.
How Can I Get a Jersey?
Don’t plan on getting one from an animal shelter! Mack was a fluke. Also, you are going to need a lot of land. As in a farm. They are relatively low maintenance as cattle goes. They are on the small side. (Again, relatively speaking. There is no such thing as a lap cow.) If you get a cow and an intact bull, expect lots of calves very quickly! Both cows and bulls are incredibly fertile. The cow will produce abundant milk. The milk the cow produces will have a high butterfat content, better for making cheese and butter than for drinking. A well treated Jersey will have a calm and gentle temperament. The only downside to raising a Jersey is that cows are prone to post-parturient hypocalcaemia, also known as “milk fever”. In such a case, the calf will not get the needed nutrients from Mama and will need to be bottle fed. Bottle fed bulls have been known to be calmer with humans than bulls that were nursed strictly by Mama Cow. Could it be Mack was bottle fed as a calf?
Animal shelters are known for providing temporary homes for stray cats and dogs until they can find them temporary homes. Occasionally, they will take in other animals. For example, shelters often find rabbits on their doorstep shortly after Easter when the living decoration has suddenly become a responsibility. Very rarely do they have to take in cattle. Mack, the bull with a dog’s temperament, was quite the peculiarity. We’re all glad this real life Ferdinand got a happy ending. He is very happy.