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Blind Bison Becomes “Sanctuary Matriarch” After Cow Coaxes Her Out Of Her Shell.

blind bison giving love to cow

Sometimes all it takes is one special friend to change your entire world.

When Helen the bison was born on a farm in Sublimity, Oregon, the farmer planned to euthanize her right away because she was born blind. Lisa Miller begged her husband not to kill the baby bison, and after a lot of tears and pleading, he relented.

Lisa raised Helen herself, feeding her from a bottle and sometimes even sleeping next to her in the barn.

“She was the biggest, most gentle giant,” Lisa said. “She loved everything, she loved everybody. She loved to kiss your face with her big, black tongue.”

After Lisa was injured in a car accident in 2011, she could no longer care for the 1,200-lb., 14-year-old bison. She arranged for the animal to go live at Lighthouse Farm Sanctuary, a nonprofit in Scio, Oregon that’s home to more than 400 animals, including goats, sheep, horses, cows, donkeys, and birds.

When Helen first arrived at the sanctuary, she was withdrawn and scared. Because she was blind, she was terrified of the changes to her environment and mistrustful of her new human handlers. Her rescuers wondered what they could do to draw her out of her shell.

Ultimately, they couldn’t do anything to help Helen… but a pregnant dairy cow named Betsy could.

As soon as Betsy gave birth to a calf called Oliver, Helen’s nurturing side took over. Helen started to groom the Jersey calf right away, and soon the two were the best of friends. The pair spent the next year together with Betsy nearby, but soon it was time for Oliver to join the cow herd at the sanctuary.

One might think that Oliver’s departure from her pasture would make her sad. Instead, the bison blossomed into the “Sanctuary Matriarch!” Helen soon became the first animal to welcome other strays to the farm.

“Everything changed for Helen at that moment,” said sanctuary executive director Gwen Jakubisin. “She was like super-momma. Her disposition completely changed. She was more joyful.”

Soon the farm workers began calling her “Queen Helen,” and her true personality was evident to everyone who met her.

“Helen was love and acceptance. She was absolute magic,” Gwen said. 

She mothered every kind of animal from piglets to geese. Both animals and humans alike were drawn to the gentle giant. After stories about her friendship with Oliver went viral online, the sanctuary received donations that helped them rescue thousands of other animals!

Sadly, Helen succumbed to health problems in 2022 at the age of 23, but her memory will never be forgotten.

“The loss of her presence is immense for us,” Gwen said. “Anybody who was in the presence of her was automatically transfixed. She just had this incredible love that just sort of emanated from her. And she was so kind and so patient and so compassionate.”

Helen made such an impression on the world around her, especially on the dozens of animals she helped to comfort and raise. Rest in peace, sweet girl!

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