Originally published at stuff.co.nz
They say that fate is the result of both choice and chance.
This I believe to be true, as it was a combination of both that led to Gabriel coming into my life and changing it forever.
Let me explain. It was Gabriel’s original destiny to be killed before he was even a week old.
He is a male dairy calf, the kind farmers call ‘Bobby’.
He was to be put on a truck, still all new and shaky from entering this world, and sent to the slaughter house.
But fate intervened. I heard about his destiny by chance and choose to take him home (and a mate) into my heart and life.
Gabriel was special to me from the start. He has enormous deep brown eyes and a softness that melted my heart into a gooey mess of devotion. But it was not all plain sailing.
This was a wee baby in his first week of life and he needed and missed his real Mum. I was all he had.
And I could never replace his birthright: his mother.
In his first days with me he was shaky, traumatized and confused. He had endured a long and difficult breech birth.
To top it off his friend had a bug from the sheds they came from and passed it onto Gabriel.
I nursed them both back to health.
Still Gabriel would shy away from me, tentatively taking his bottle which would often take an hour of gentle persuasion. He tottered uncertainly after his wee mate, hiding just our of reach behind tree trunks when I came near. I think he missed his real mum for the longest of times. I allowed him that time. You cannot force trust.
One day, as I was feeding the calves, Gabriel came up to me and pressed his body against my thighs, leaning in and nuzzling me.
What I did not realise was that Gabriel was coming down with an umbilical cord infection caused from it being ripped during his birth. He was seeking comfort from his substitute mum. Again I nursed him back to health with vet care and he never left my side again.
Gabriel had learned to trust me.
People may not understand that we share a bond just as close as they have with their cat or dog. Gabriel knows my voice and responds to me. He knows routines and is playful and loves his cuddles.
He walks with me in solidarity, gently by my side and likes me to sit with him as he chews his cud. He loves to meet new people and is especially gentle with children.
Gabriel may not be able to catch a ball like a dog, but he has caught my heart and trapped it forever. Fate intervened with his destiny and love and trust are what sealed it.
Gabriel’s destiny should never have been the bobby truck: but he is only one of over two million who actually were sent on the truck last year.
I hope people will hear his story and think about their plight.