Shepparton News - - FRONT PAGE - By DE­CLAN MARTIN

Rusty the cuddly cow is the win­ner of The News’ Pic­ture Per­fect Pets com­pe­ti­tion af­ter more than 450 photos were sub­mit­ted and more than 6800 votes were cast on­line.

Rusty was judged the most pop­u­lar pet, re­ceiv­ing 1880 votes, 18 more than the sec­ond place-get­ter.

The com­pe­ti­tion was an over­whelm­ing suc­cess with read­ers em­brac­ing the chance to share pic­tures of their much-loved pets, with many of them ap­pear­ing in The News and all pub­lished at www.shep­p­

Rachael Rowe said the win­ning pic­ture of her­self rest­ing her head on the three-year-old dairy cow Rusty was taken by her part­ner, Daniel Beat­tie, who saw the mo­ment and just thought it would make a good photo.

‘‘I was hav­ing a bad day, when the pic­ture was taken, I had gone to hos­pi­tal for a cae­sarean, but their was a mix-up of the date and I went home — I was up­set and dis­ap­pointed, cry­ing for my baby, feel­ing a bit up­set,’’ Ms Rowe said.

‘‘So I went out and sat down with Rusty for an hour and we got up to­gether, I didn’t know there was a cam­era around.

‘‘I felt bet­ter af­ter­wards, funny thing is we were both preg­nant at the time, I had my child in Au­gust be­fore she had her first calf in Jan­uary.’’

Ms Rowe said Rusty was re­ally cheeky and loved to be pat­ted.

‘‘She’s a won­der­ful cow with such a great na­ture, my nine-year-old daugh­ter feels safe around her and of­ten comes up to her to give a pet,’’ she said.

‘‘She can get jeal­ous if you show at­ten­tion on other cows nearby.’’

Rusty is one of 160 cows at the Harston bio­dy­namic dairy farm and Ms Rowe has no­ticed the good na­ture of the an­i­mal since join­ing the farm.

Ms Rowe said Rusty was lucky she was loved, be­cause she was kept on at the dairy farm, de­spite her only hav­ing three teats, mean­ing she does not pro­duce as much milk as the other cows.

‘‘I rang the owner of the farm to tell them they can’t get rid of her now cause she is a prize win­ning cow,’’ she said with a laugh.

Ms Rowe said it was bril­liant to win and she had to thank many dairy farm­ers for their votes af­ter shar­ing the photo on a cou­ple of Face­book groups.

‘‘I just ex­plained the com­pe­ti­tion and talked about Rusty and it got a huge re­sponse,’’ she said.

‘‘Peo­ple from all of the world were vot­ing for her.’’

In sec­ond place was Anna McNa­mara’s res­cued cat TC, who was one of four kit­tens dumped back in Oc­to­ber.

Dianne Pryde’s cute pup­pies Cosmo, Zoe, Os­car, Lulu and Peppy rounded out the Pic­ture Per­fect Pets top three.

The top three vote win­ners will re­ceive store vouch­ers cour­tesy of the Hunter Group.

Car­ing cow: Rachael Rowe with Pic­ture Per­fect Pets win­ner Rusty.

Can­did mo­ment cap­tured: Rachael Rowe with Rusty.

Couch-time: Dianne Pryde’s cute pup­pies Cosmo, Zoe, Os­car, Lulu and Peppy came third in Pic­ture Per­fect Pets.

Fluffy: Anne McNa­mara’s TC was voted as the sec­ond favourite pet in Pic­ture Per­fect Pets.

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