Every time David Wirbal, 54, parked his truck near the pasture, Dudley the Scottish Highland bull trotted over. Wirbal soon learned the bull loved attention as much as he loved carrots.
“Sometimes when he was very far away, he would get halfway to me, stop, and moo to be like, ‘I’m coming. Don’t move,’ ” said Wirbal of Wilton, N.H. “I realized he’s not just a big animal in a field. This is a guy with a personality.”
Wirbal wasn’t the burly bovine’s only regular visitor. As commuters made their way along this rural road in Milford, N.H, Dudley was a part of the drive. The shaggy-haired 1,200-pound bull whose wavy locks often cover his eyes was hard to miss.
Like Wirbal, people brought treats and gave him nicknames like “Pumpkin,” “Shaggy,” and “Hugh Heifer.” Children waved at Dudley from cars and people took his picture. It seemed like everyone knew Dudley. But it was Wirbal who saved his life, offering to purchase him last Christmas Eve. He began a GoFundMe in January for the now-3-year-old bull so Dudley wouldn’t be sent to slaughter. The cost to buy the bull was $6,000.
Wirbal posted pictures of Dudley and researched possible sanctuaries that would suit him. He made “I saved Dudley” T-shirts as incentives and started a “Save Dudley the Scottish Highland Bull” Facebook page. The donations poured in — $10 here, $35 there — until in five months they exceeded their goal. Wirbal soon found Dudley a new home, where he will now live out the rest of his days roaming Unity Farm Sanctuary in Sherborn. He arrived June 9.
“The GoFundMe captured the attention of people who didn’t even know Dudley,” said Kathy Halamka, who cofounded Unity Farm Sanctuary with her husband, John. “When David had to leave over the weekend, he looked like he was dropping off his kid at college.” The farm is already planning a party so fans can come for a visit.
Dudley is adjusting well to his new surroundings, Halamka said, spending time with a nearby herd of two. There’s Elliot, a young male calf who was born on Thanksgiving, and a young female named Audrey Heifer. Dudley gets four square meals of hay a day and social time, and enjoys standing with the two others. To see them, check out the farm’s cow cam.
“This is my contribution to humanity and the animal world, and I could not have been happier,” Wirbal said. “Never when I first started driving by did I ever think that someday I’m going to save this animal and bring him to a sanctuary.”Cristela Guerra can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @CristelaGuerra.