'Til death do them part: Horse and cow had special lifelong bond

Although Rosie lived a long and full life, those that cared for her believe she died of a broken heart.

That’s because Rosie, a Polled Hereford cow, died just nine days after the death of her longtime stable mate, Bingo, an Appaloosa horse.

Rosie and Bingo spent 18 years together on the small Manatuck Farm on Norfield Road.

Kara Shepherd, their caretaker, said the animals were inseparable — they played together, ate together, and slept together in the same stall. On occasion they would even wander off together, knocking through a fence to see if the grass was indeed greener in the neighbor’s yard.

The pair had a good country life as the only farm animals in residence. Rosie enjoyed mooing at a full moon and at fireworks on the 4th of July. When someone pulled into the driveway she had a special greeting for them.

The pair had their fans. People would stop by and wave at them, and some would bring them hay or carrots. Rosie was not one to turn down a free meal.

But on Feb. 6, things changed for the happy-go-lucky couple. Bingo, who was 30, was ill. Rosie sensed something was wrong and never left his side. After Bingo died in the stable, Rosie lay down next to him.

“Rosie was very quiet,” said Ms. Shepherd. “After we took Bingo away she would go out and look for him. She just wasn’t herself.”

Then, nine days later, on Feb. 15, Rosie, 18, lay down and wouldn’t get up. Ms. Shepherd tried to feed her by hand but Rosie refused and then quietly took her last breath and was gone.

“Rosie had never been alone before without Bingo. I think she died of a broken heart,” Ms. Shepherd said.

The two were buried together as befit them, joined together for eternity. But for Ms. Shepherd, losing Rosie and Bingo broke her heart a bit, too.

Ms. Shepherd, who lives in Ridgefield, grew up in Redding, and once lived in Weston. She always had a love for horses and when she went to college at the University of Connecticut, she majored in animal science.

She struck up a friendship with the Bruggermann family who lived on Manatuck Farm, which was once the home of renowned sculptor Annie Kreator. Ms. Shepherd took care of their animals when they went on trips or on vacation. In return, they let her keep her horse, Galiban, at the farm.

When Galiban died, Ms. Shepherd got Bingo, whose elderly owner had recently died. The Bruggermanns allowed Bingo to stay on their farm with their horse, Rocky, and their cows.

Rosie was born on the farm on March 31, 1994, and it wasn’t an easy delivery. “There were snow flurries and we waited for hours and hours for mama Ruby to have her calf, but nothing was happening,” Ms. Shepherd recalled.

When the man she was dating at the time (who she would eventually marry), went out to get some pizza, out popped Rosie.

But the prolonged delivery must have been traumatic. Rosie wouldn’t nurse and couldn’t stand up. Barbara Bruggermann put Rosie in her Suburban and brought her to a cow vet in Southbury. The tiny calf had a fever and needed injections and antibiotics.

“I can imagine what people must have thought seeing the head of a cow in the back window of a Suburban,” Ms. Shepherd said.

After some tender loving care, Rosie recovered, and a friendship started to blossom between the young cow and the older, experienced horse.

The Bruggermanns eventually sold their home to Karen and Dan Bennewitz, who agreed to let Ms. Shepherd keep Bingo and Rosie on the farm.

“The Bennewitzes were very kind to let me keep them there. If it hadn’t been for their generosity, I would have had to give Rosie up. I went twice a day to feed Bingo and Rosie and the whole time the Bennewitzes asked for nothing in return. They were just good people,” Ms. Shepherd said.

The remaining years went very smoothly and happily for the pair and when Ms. Shepherd had a baby, Sara, she, too, enjoyed being around them.

Now seven, Sara loves to collect Pez dispensers and has inherited her mother’s love of animals. She spent nearly every day of her life visiting Bingo and Rosie.

Although the corral at Manatuck Farm is now empty, Ms. Shepherd has many good memories that will last her a lifetime.

“Bingo and Rosie had a very good life here. It’s quiet now without the animals. I feel like something’s missing. I miss them,” she said.

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