Pet longhorn roams outside suburban homes

HELOTES, Texas (AP) – In Marin Hollow, deep in the Helotes Hill Country, lives a pet unlike the cats and dogs in the area.

He’s Red the Longhorn, a mischievous steer that’s the color of rust-colored leaves. His horns stretch more than 6 feet, tip to tip, and slope like an old cowhand’s handlebar mustache. He weighs more than 600 pounds and is thick as an oil barrel.

“He’s not fat. He’s just big-boned,” said Denise Moore, a neighbor he’s followed since he was a calf. “He’s a funny guy.”

Red spends most of his day at Moore’s property, named Rachmones, which means compassion in Yiddish. Her husband, Craig Manifold, and their three children – Hanna, 23, Della, 20 and Caleb, 11 – all have stories of adventures with Red among the scrub brush and mesquite tree-lined fields.

He’s photo-bombed an outside father-and-son portrait. He’s lapped up water from their swimming pool. And when it’s time to go home, he’s liable to gallop around Moore’s house, with his owner, Pat Langlinais, in hot pursuit.

Born in Boerne, Red was purchased by Langlinais six years ago as a hobby.

He hand-fed the calf that’s grown almost as tall as a compact car. Red’s the only longhorn on his property, and was raised around horses on Moore’s adjacent land.

“He’s just an oversized dog with horns,” Langlinais, 49, told the San Antonio Express-News. “He likes to lick your hand; he’s pretty gentle.”

In recent years, the cattle have become a road stop attraction for travelers across the state. And increasingly, more people have taken them in as pets. According to the Presidential Pet Museum, President George W. Bush kept a longhorn named Ofelia at his ranch in Crawford.

Longhorns like Red have been called yard art or pasture ornaments, but some breeders and ranchers take offense at use of the terms. They stress that longhorn are livestock, noted for their ability to adapt to harsh conditions and their lean cuts of beef.

Laura Standley, editor of Texas Longhorn Magazine, said that people raise the animals for many reasons, such as an agricultural tax exemption.

“It’s different things to different people,” Standley said. “They are all unique, sizes, patterns and horn sizes; they’re not just a standard cow. No two are the same.”

The editor added some people keep the animals for nostalgia, with a nod to descendants who once drove cattle herds.

“It’s that historical remembrance of yesteryear,” Standley said, “and the romanticism of the cowboys.”

Langlinais said Red spends most of his time with Moore and her family. He’s also bonded with their dogs, Dexter and Cash, both tripods, and Teddy and Duckie. There’s also Ty and Kona, two fosters from Spay Neuter Inject Project of San Antonio.

Moore, a home school teacher, said, this longhorn appreciates the written word. While reading to her son in their barn, Red hung his head over a chain, watching them, lost in the tale of Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein.”

In the near future, many more people may be aware of Red’s exploits. Moore said she has a children’s book about the friendly steer in the making.

And there’s apt to be a page in the book about Red’s aversion to being fenced in.

He’s twisted his horns side to side to get through a walk-in garage door. And he’s jumped a 5-foot fence and slipped beneath chains just to be near his clan.

“Feed him the good stuff, feed him first and you won’t have any problems,” she said. “And the only way to get him to go is if he wants to go.”