Chico: The great, longhorned Texas steer

KUSA - "For 23 years, he was my great friend. Now his body is gone, but not his spirit. What a spirit!" Diane Benedict, Founder of DreamPower Ranch, said.

Benedict is not referring to a younger companion but to a great long-horned Texas steer.

Just born, ice cold, he was abandoned by his mother and brought up to Benedict by ranch hands.

"I cried over this little calf, begging him to live and promising him that, if he did, I would never eat meat again," Benedict said.

After eight hours of homeopathic ministrations, heating pads, down comforters and messages, Chico revived.

In his early life, he lived in her house with the dogs and cats, though he never figured out how to climb stairs.

Eventually, too big to maneuver through the doorways, he joined the horses in the paddock and ate whatever they ate as a regular part of the herd. His best pal was Sidney, a donkey and a fellow orphan.

"Chico served as an ambassador and teacher to those who otherwise would never have recognized the sweet friendship a 2,000-pound steer could offer," Benedict wrote in a tribute to Chico. "He had no fear of people. He looked to humans as a source of love, protection, comfort, and I always said, 'How could anyone eat their friends?' Made a lot of folks pause and think."

"He and I were absolutely bonded in love," Benedict wrote, observing a relationship familiar to animal lovers, though most often those animals are "pets," the four-legged creatures who inhabit our homes alongside us.

One day, Chico could not rise from the ground.

"Chico's quality of life was gone if he couldn't get up. So, it was time. I stayed by his big head talking and singing softly to him in Italian as the equine vet dealt with the challenge of bovine hide. I suggested she give him a sedative, which she did," Benedict said.

The love Benedict bore for Chico is part and parcel of her gestalt. Just as one would sit with a dying relative, so she sat with Chico on the ground until he was gone.

"He didn't panic or seem to suffer. He just took his time to leave, all the while, eye to eye with me. And then his breathing ceased, and he left me with his body which we put deep into the ground," Benedict said.

This article was written for 9NEWS by Dr. Annie Dawid, an animal activist and professor of creative writing at Arapahoe Community College.

Dreampower Ranch near Castle Rock, Colo., is a rescue operation for animals with hooves, paws, claws and feathers.

Diane Benedict, who created People and Animals Living Synergistically (PAALS,) runs the 160-acre home for dogs, donkeys, cats, horses and various other creatures in need of shelter -- whether temporarily while they wait for adoptive families -- or for always, as they approach the end of their lives -- their "forever home." The ranch survives off donations from people and institutions who love animals. Find out more about DreamPower and Diane Benedict http://www.paalsforlife.com/.


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