Helen the cow can't see, but she knew exactly where to look to find her best friend.
Helen was just 11 days old when she was rescued from a beef farm in South Australia. Helen was born blind, and the farmer didn't have any use for her. When she reached 18 months, she would have been sent to slaughter.
Luckily, a local animal lover noticed Helen, who has a distinctive white coat because of a recessive gene. She notified Freedom Hill Sanctuary, a local animal haven co-founded by Kelly Dinham. Dinham and her mother, Kym, rushed over to the beef farm to rescue the calf, naming her Helen, after Helen Keller.
When Helen arrived at the sanctuary, she plopped herself right in front of a pen holding two other rescue cows, Christina and Batman. Both cows were curious about Helen, and they stayed close to the gate to check her out ...
... But it was Christina who took a particular liking to Helen.
"These two became inseparable," Dinham told The Dodo. "I think Christina helped Helen settle into life at the sanctuary. She was a little older and able to be comforting and reassuring. After only a few days of spending time together, Helen was playing and bounding around with Christina."
Despite being blind, Helen manages to make her way around the sanctuary without many issues. She knows where the fences and shelters are, and how to find her hay and water trough. "I think because she was born blind it's heightened her other senses," Dinham said. "She relies on them when moving around the fields. She's moved to new fields a couple of times and might accidentally trip or bump into a fence, but quickly learns and remembers where they are."
Occasionally, Helen does run into problems. "When I was delivering fresh hay in the [truck], Christina ran behind the car," Dinham said. "Helen got so excited by it all she ran off but in completely the opposite direction, thinking she was following the hay. We had to call her back and she came running down. I have a photo of Helen leaping mid-air."
And when all else fails, Helen can always count on Christina. "Christina calls out to Helen if they get too far apart," Dinham said. "She's always sleeping next to her, sharing her food, just generally being a good friend to Helen. They also love playing together, nuzzling and pushing each other around the field."
Besides hanging out with her best friend Christina, Helen loves sunbathing, snoozing and snacking on her favorite food - an Australian pastry called fruit buns.
"Seeing Christina and Helen together makes me incredibly happy - it gives me a feeling of hope for the world," Dinham said. "They both chose each other as friends and I find that so beautiful. They truly enjoy just being in each others company."
Freedom Hill Sanctuary has raised over 37 orphaned lambs since it opened in 2011. It's home to over 40 permanent sheep residents, 12 cows, 10 goats, eight horses, 50 chickens, three turkeys, four pigs, nine cats, four dogs and one deer.