The Gentle Barn is a nonprofit organization located just north of Los Angeles in Santa Clarita, California that was founded in 1999 as a safe haven and place of recovery for abused farm animals. The charity gives inner city, at-¬risk and special needs children who have suffered physical, mental or emotional trauma a chance to interact with farm animals who have also had lives fraught with trauma. By interacting with The Gentle Barn’s one hundred and seventy-five animals and taking a hands¬-on role in their welfare, those who participate in the program learn empathy, trust, forgiveness and leadership.
One such animal is Dudley, a young cow that had been suffering from a severed foot. Ten weeks since his rescue, is now on his way to recovery after receiving top-notch medical support and a custom-made prosthesis. Unattended for months in a cold and muddy pasture on a ranch in Tennessee, Dudley was rescued by The Gentle Barn and admitted to the University of Tennessee’s Veterinary Hospital where his severed foot was surgically amputated and was fitted with a prosthetic foot.
Ronnie Graves, fellow amputee and owner of VIP Veterinary Inclusive Prosthetics and Orthopedics, designed and built the custom foot for Dudley. When Dudley’s prosthetic foot was not fitting him perfectly, Ronnie worked hard on making the appropriate adjustments to Dudley’s leg and large, growing body.
"This part of Dudley’s recovery is so hard because he is in the process of adjusting to his prosthesis. We just want him to come home already,” explains The Gentle Barn’s Founder, Ellie Laks. “We are so close, but not there yet. We must be patient through the process and offer encouragement to Dudley while he bravely continues his rehabilitation, strengthens his muscles, and regains his balance.”
The recovery and physical therapy that Dudley is going through, as difficult and prolonged as it is, can closely resemble treatment and challenges undergone by human amputees such as strength and mobility exercises. “The first group of amputees, who are members of a local amputee support group, are already scheduled to visit Dudley. We want to show that through the power of mutual healing that Dudley will benefit from them as much as they will benefit from Dudley.” These animals have a unique ability to connect with people who have suffered similar traumas and seeing them, interacting with them, and building relationships with them is uplifting.
Learn more at www.gentlebarn.org