“The difference between a cow and a dog is just the size.”

By Meghan Overdeep
April 27, 2021

Jenna wore her best pink halter for her role as "Best Cow" in Ryan Phillips' wedding over the weekend.

"I adore her so much and she seems to share the sentiment," the groom told Southern Living of his relationship with his best friend, a 1,000-pound cow.

Their unique story begins about two years ago, when Phillips, who runs an animal sanctuary in Williamsburg, Virginia, saw an ad for a newborn Holstein calf being given away by a dairy farmer in Durham, North Carolina.

Ryan Phillips Life with Pigs Jenna Cow
Credit: Life with Pigs

With a high chance of her being infertile due to the fact that she was born with a twin brother, Jenna was headed for slaughter at just three days old. Fortunately, the farmer's daughter, Jenna, convinced her father to give the calves away instead of killing them.

Phillips wrapped the little calf in a blanket and drove her home to Life with Pigs Farm Animal Sanctuary. He named her Jenna after the girl who saved her life.

"From that moment forward, Jenna became my best buddy," Phillips told Reader's Digest. "I fed her three bottles a day for six months and slept with her in the barn many nights to make sure she never felt lonely. Without her mother cow to pass her immunities through her milk, Jenna ended up being sick a lot in the first few months she was with me. I worried about her constantly as she lay sad and sickly with her head in my lap, with frequent vet visits to help her pull through."

Having never known her own mother, Jenna quickly came to believe that she is a human. Phillips told Reader's Digest that it took a while for her to be comfortable with other cows. And even today, she still chooses a game a chase or "headbutt," with him over hanging out with her cow friends. Her other hobbies include swinging by the kitchen window, A.K.A. the "Carrot Drive-Thru," for treats and even shaking hands for an alfalfa treat.  

Before the pandemic, Phillips even took her on walks through town, which he saw as an opportunity to educate people about cows.

"A lot of people will drive past cows in a cow pasture and think that they are just giant animals that eat grass all day," Phillips told the outlet. "Jenna has all the qualities that we associate with dogs and especially that strong desire to be loved. She will let me hug her or she puts her head against my leg, and I'll wrap my arms around her, which we will do for 20 minutes. The look on her face is utter contentment. The difference between a cow and a dog is just the size."

You can follow Phillips, Jenna, and their growing family on their Facebook page, Life with Pigs.