Hello, I Love You
by Farm Sanctuary National Shelter Director Susie Coston
It’s that magical moment. You’re at a gathering, the same old scene. You’re hanging out, maybe munching on some food, not expecting to be noticed. Then you look up, and there she is. You’ve seen her before, in passing, but something has changed. Your eyes lock across the room. You walk toward each other through the crowd. You converge. The chemistry is perfect. She’s the one. It’s love.
It’s the sheep barn at Farm Sanctuary’s New York Shelter. This is where a sheep named Chico and a goat named Dorothy (pictured above) fell for each other. We’ve seen our share of special bonds at the shelter. Steers Larry and Kevin have stood by each other for 16 years. Bing and Bessie, two geese, have been loyal companions for 24 years. Friendships thrive here. Free from fear, stress and deprivation, which can stifle an animal’s personality, our residents are able to express their natures and, well, follow their hearts.
As in human relationships, sometimes those hearts lead their owners in surprising directions. Though our sheep and goats get along fine with each other, we rarely see any particular interest between members of the two species. Dorothy and Chico weren’t rescued together, and they live in a herd of more than 100 sheep and goats. People who have not spent time caring for these animals have a hard time telling them apart, especially all the sheep. But Dorothy recognizes Chico from the other end of the barn. They seek each other out, and when they meet, they exchange adoring greetings by rubbing their heads against each other. They spend hours each day grooming, playing and snuggling together. We don’t know how it happened, but these two are obviously smitten.
Susie Coston, Farm Sanctuary’s national shelter director, joined us in March 2000. In the six years prior to coming to Farm Sanctuary, she worked for a veterinarian and at a sanctuary in West Virginia. Before that, she earned a master’s degree in special education and worked with kids with disabilities. As a committed farm animal caregiver for more than a decade, Susie has been a mentor for many of her peers (who have started their own sanctuaries throughout the U.S.) and is well-known for bringing the animals’ stories of love, loss and life to the public. Currently, she oversees a full department of caregivers, feeders, cleaners, and project workers at the New York Shelter, ensuring that hundreds of animals are given the best possible care at every stage of their lives. Aside from working at Farm Sanctuary, Susie cares for her own 10 cats, two dogs and two roosters.