Looking for That Significant Udder? Try Calling the Panagakos Family and Their New Agency, Adopt-a-Cow

updated 07/20/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/20/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

The concept couldn't be simpler. "Adopt-A-Cow is for the man or woman who has everything," says Suzanne Panagakos, 26, "but who doesn't have a cow." A minority taste? Could be, but Adopt-A-Cow—run by Suzanne and Steven Panagakos on the couple's 180-acre Hopkinton, R.I. farm—may become the newest way for urbanites in the New England-New York corridor to participate in country living and—hey, no bull—benefit bovines. For a $250-$400 adoption fee (depending on bloodlines) plus a $15 weekly maintenance fee, participants can get an 8x10 glossy of their dream cow, an adoption certificate, a chance to name the bossy and throw it birthday parties, visitation rights on one Sunday per month and the right to earn up to half of her calves' adoption fees.

The idea was born when Steven, 34, bought the farm late last year. Although he owns two local seafood restaurants, both of which also serve beef, he says, "I just couldn't sell my nine Herefords for slaughter. I grew attached to them. They have their own personalities." After buying six more head, Panagakos started Adopt-A-Cow in May and claims he's since then found parents for all 15 heifers. While neighbors find the notion of cow adoption a bit far afield, the local chapter of the ASPCA, at least, thinks the idea is worth milking. "Sure, it's a way of making money," says the chapter's executive director, Lionel Hetu, "but so is slaughtering animals." Ironically, Adopt-A-Cow's biggest achievement so far is bringing the Panagakos family—including Jason, 7, and Jessica, 5—back together. Steven and Suzanne have been divorced for three years, but, says Steven, "the farm has given us a focus and reunited us." "We're planning to get married again on our old anniversary, Dec. 2."

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