Meet Helen: the blind rescue bison that lives at Lighthouse Farm Sanctuary in Oregon. She first arrived to the sanctuary around 5 years ago, but her nervous nature meant that it was difficult for her to socialize with the other animals. “When Helen first got here she was very shy and seemed a little lonely, so we tried to pair her with ‘pasture pals’ so she could have a friend but no one really synced up with her,” Gwen from Lighthouse Farm Sanctuary tells My Modern Met. Unfortunately, this meant that Helen spent much of her time in solitude. “About a year later,” Gwen says, “we rescued a pregnant dairy cow named Betsy who gave birth to Oliver at the sanctuary. The minute he was big enough to go exploring he ventured out to Helen’s field and their friendship was almost immediate.”
Oliver the curious Jersey calf came along and showed Helen the love and understanding she deserves. The unlikely duo quickly became best friends, and formed an unbreakable bond. Helen’s motherly instinct also kicked in, and she began grooming Oliver. The young calf’s fur even started to change color as he got older to match her dark brown coat.
As their friendship blossomed, Helen’s entire attitude began to change, and she became visibly happier. Helen and Oliver spent an entire year together (with Oliver’s mom Betsy always close by), until the calf decided it was time to join the sanctuary’s cow herd. But that didn’t mean Helen returned to being lonely—her experience with Oliver gave her the confidence to welcome other animals into her life. That was when Uma, a newly rescued piglet began visiting Helen. The new friends often share meals and snuggle up together in the hay.
Helen has even appointed herself as a foster mother to a new calf the Lighthouse Farm team rescued a year ago, named Italo. They spend nearly all day side by side, and she loves to groom him, too. Gwen says, “Watching Helen come out of her shell has been truly incredible and we’re just so blessed to know her. She’s the kindest, most patient, and loving animal we’ve had the pleasure of knowing.”
Lighthouse Farm Sanctuary provides a safe and loving environment for animals just like Helen and her friends to flourish. “Our sanctuary is home to almost 300 non-human animals who have seen the very worst of humanity and every day they amaze us with their profound abilities to love and to be loved, even after the tragedies they have endured,” say the team. “Our goal is to share their stories with the community and bring about positive change in the way they are viewed by society.”