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“Cow 569” and other heroic animals

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Having fun in the hills!

« on: April 03, 2011, 10:34:41 pm »

Moo-ving stories of our four-legged superheroes

By SARAH HARVEY - Sunday Star-Times | 11:12AM - Sunday, 03 April 2011

“HOLY COW 569”

FARMER Kim Riley's life has changed dramatically since Cow 569 carried her to safety in floodwaters in Manawatu in 2004.

The dairy cow is one of dozens of "heroic" New Zealand animals featured in news stories over the past decade and which could have easily featured on Time magazine's list of the 10 most heroic animals in history.

The US magazine included one Kiwi — bottlenose dolphin Moko — who charmed crowds on the East Coast and Bay of Plenty and was credited with stopping a pygmy sperm whale and her calf from beaching themselves on Mahia Beach in 2008.

Cow 569 is now 16 years old and pregnant again. In human years, she would be 112 so she gets a bit of special treatment, Riley says.

Riley clearly remembers the day her life was saved by one of her dairy herd. The floods at the farm in 2004 were worse than expected. She and husband Keith were aware the river had risen during the night so they moved the cows to higher ground the next morning not realising, in the dark, that the water had come right up to the cowshed.

"They were spooked in the dark, as they must have known the water was there, but I hadn't seen it in the dark. The next thing I know they were all floating, so I shot out to head them off and I ended up floating between them," Riley recalled.

Riley struggled against the current for about 30 minutes before Cow 569 happened to swim past and Riley grabbed on to her.

"She didn't set out to be a hero, but she definitely did save me. She didn't say ‘ooh there's the boss I better go and get her’. She's a bit of a stroppy old tart, she would've probably thought ‘get off me you lug’."

The rescue story ran on the BBC before it was picked up by media in New Zealand. About a week after the incident, Riley was contacted by publisher Random House and asked if she would like to write a children's book about her experience. She has since written two children's books, Cow Power and Baby Cow Power.

TO THE RESCUE: Cow 569 “saved” Kim Riley's life during a flood in Manawatu. — PHIL REID/The Dominion Post.
TO THE RESCUE: Cow 569 “saved” Kim Riley's life during a flood in Manawatu. — PHIL REID/The Dominion Post.

"Cow 569 opened up a completely new world for my husband and myself through the people we have met and the journalists that we now know and the different circles that we move in. She has earned the right of hanging around."

George the Jack Russell made international headlines when he died protecting a group of children from two pit bulls in Taranaki in 2007. George's owner, Alan Gay, of Manaia, south of New Plymouth, said George would have fitted nicely on the list.

"He was going ahead of the children and these two dogs closed in on this kid in a wheelchair and George came back and attacked them, but he was no match for them. He was just a little dog against two great big ones."

And then there's Sylvester, the usually antisocial cat, who alerted neighbours when his 90-year-old owner was stuck in a cold bath and suffering hypothermia at her home in Rotorua, in 2007.

Meanwhile, Mozzie the cat may not be a hero but he has a story to purr about after hitching a ride from Hamilton to Invercargill with the crew for British band Gerry and the Pacemakers.

Mozzie's owner Hendri de Bruin, noticed him missing on Monday and asked if anyone had seen him.

Layton Lillas, the promoter for the Pacemakers, lives next door to de Bruin and said Mozzie sneaked into the back of his truck when he was loading it. He heard the cat meowing as the truck was being unpacked on the band's opening night in Invercargill. He's still on tour because it would cost $170 to fly him back.

"He sounds very happy," said de Bruin. Lallas said: "He's loveable — he's travelling around with some celebrities — he's almost becoming a celebrity himself."

Mozzie will stay with them until Wellington and fly home from there.



  • Kiwi the guide dog who led his owner, Blair McConnell, to safety following the February 22 Canterbury earthquake.

  • Qannik, an Alaskan malamute bitch, woke Ashburton photographer Brad MacDonald on Christmas Day 2009, allowing him to escape his burning house.

  • Lilly the Jack Russell saved her Nelson owner by running to the owner's sister's house when an intruder invaded her home in 2008. The sister called police and the intruder was arrested.

  • Blade the police dog tracked a fugitive to the Hutt River where the man would likely have drowned had he not been found. It was one of many rescues and heroic deeds during his career. Blade died of old age in November.

  • Tiva, a pit bull puppy, latched onto the arm of an attacker who claimed he had a gun, to defend his owner Jamie Taiwhati, 18, during an attack on her car near Palmerston North in 2009.

  • Fiji, an eight-month-old Staffordshire bull terrier, licked owner Shirley Mulvihill's face to wake her when a fire destroyed their Southland home last September.

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