In the summer of 2013, SASHA Farm received a plea regarding oxen needing a home. Bhima and Dharma, both Indian-breed Gyr oxen, were living on land that had been sold, and the new property owner wanted them gone. SASHA had never housed oxen but knew the animals needed a home.

When the property owner and his neighbor threatened to shoot the oxen for wandering onto the neighbor’s property, SASHA sprang into action. It took three days and several trips to secure Bhima and Dharma, who were peaceful and calm upon arriving at the sanctuary. They knew they were safe.

Stevie, a blind cow, shares a kiss with Bhima.
Stevie, a blind cow, shares a kiss with Bhima.

At SASHA, Dharma and Bhima received countless belly rubs, head scratches and treats befitting these gentle giants. Unfortunately, both animals encountered health complications. Dharma became ill and died, while Bhima had a serious skin infection due to the location of his horns, which grew backward instead of outward. Bhima’s horns wedged his skin so tightly against his head that accessing the infected skin to treat it was impossible.

The very difficult decision was made to remove Bhima’s horns, which meant part of his skull had to be removed because an ox’s horns and skull are attached. The veterinarian removed his horns, and the underlying tissue was necrotic. His loose skin was folded over and used to conceal the void. To date, he is the only sanctuary resident to receive plastic surgery — two horn removals and a facelift. Even though Bhima now has a haughty attitude due to his new look, the surgery was necessary, and the infection has not returned.

For centuries, oxen have been used to pull heavy carts. Now when Bhima sees a cart, he approaches it assuming there are treats in it, which is usually the case. He spends his days in a green pasture with a donkey named Fred, several mini horses, and dozens of goats and sheep. Recently, he had a raccoon visit him. Sometimes he leaves the pasture and spends time in the main yard with the volunteers and dogs. He still enjoys belly rubs, head scratches and being the center of attention.

— By Stacey Narduzzi for SASHA Farm


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