Dudley: How A Rescued Cow I Never Met, Changed My Life
In Knoxville, tucked up in the beautiful mountains of Tennessee is a peaceful, safe haven for rescued farm animals called The Gentle Barn. Dudley was their ambassador and his story is nothing short of a miracle filled with a lot of love. A rancher turned Dudley over to The Gentle Barn after seeing his back foot was badly mangled from bailing twine. It apparently got wrapped around his hoof and was cutting off a lot of circulation and his health was declining. The kind folks at The Gentle Barn were up to the challenge to care for him and rushed him to University Tennessee Animal Hospital. It was there where he got a prosthetic hoof and endured a lot of physical therapy. Dudley’s full story is on The Gentle Barn website. It is quite a miraculous tale! Ellie Laks and Jay Weiner are the founders of this amazing animal rescue and I highly recommend following them on Facebook and Instagram. Please note all photos are courtesy of the Gentle Barn’s website. I take no credit for any of them.
So how did a rescued cow named Dudley change me? It all began when I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s last year in 2016. It is an auto immune “dis-ease” I have been battling for a while. My compromised immune system does not allow me to digest anything with gluten anymore and has caused my eating habits to change quite a bit. Eating the wrong thing can cause inflammation and pain in my body. Many doctors and “nutritionists” have told me “you must eat meat, your body needs it, we are meant to eat meat!” My nurse practitioner almost fell out of her chair when I asked her if I should try being a vegetarian at a Hashimoto’s support group. Many of those who attended discouraged me from stopping meat. When your diet is limited, why make it harder by removing all meat? I was told I needed it, especially with my ‘dis-ease’. Well, my blood type is A and I should eat less meat anyway. I followed my spirit, it had more to say.
This article is not about being a vegetarian, it is about how one precious animal affected a human’s life to change for the better. I do not judge anyone nor am I in the medical field to tell anyone how to eat or handle their illness, I am just sharing a beautiful story about connection. When I got “sick”, I got healthy. I made better food choices, found different ways to excersize, I did not let a so called illness define who I was. I plan on healing my body in every way so I no longer say that “H” word again. I believe feeding our spirits and eating better is the key to healing most illnesses.
So how does Dudley the cow fit in all this? I have been slowly healing myself and learning a lot about my body and the food I put into it. Hippocrates once said “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”. Wow did those words ring true for me. I was following Dudley on Facebook and fell in love with him. His story was so brave, so inspiring. People from all over the world came to meet Dudley and all his rescued friends at The Gentle Barn. He gave hope to people who were amputees, healed children, turned meat eaters into vegans and inspired people globally on how we treat animals and the environment. I was looking forward to meeting my hero for he made me look at what foods I was putting into my body….meat. I stopped eating beef, pork and turkey. (I am madly in love with their latest rescue Adeline the turkey, who gives the best hugs I hear. That is another story for a future blog.)
Gentle Barn founders Ellie and Jay did many live videos of Dudley and all the animals and it really occured to me how precious they all were. Dudley was practically like a dog! I volunteer myself at a senior horse sanctuary, so why is a horse’s life more important than a cow? I would never eat a horse, so why a cow I pondered. The more I saw Dudley’s eyes, his soul, his kindness, his unconditional love for the volunteers and visitors, the more I just couldn’t do it. Once I found out how healthier it was to remove meat and dairy from my diet, the easier it was for me. (now I am still working on removing chicken…baby steps right?) The point is, I never met Dudley and he moved me to such a drastic change in my diet and got me teary eyed often. I couldn’t wait to touch him and be in his presence.
I was planning to visit Dudley with my pilot Holly sometime at the end of the summer. One day, I was scrolling Facebook and saw Dudley had taken ill. Shortly, he died of a stomach ulcer that could not be corrected. Dudley’s kind spirit left this world on June 20, 2017. When he passed, an entire organization mourned and so did millions around the world.
I sat in my kitchen, sobbing uncontrollably. How could a cow I never met, affect me like that? I was filled with grief for the founders, Ellie and Jay, the volunteers who spent countless days and years with him…I mourned with them and added regret to my life….I wished I would have visited The Gentle Barn sooner. I wanted that connection, I wanted that cuddle, I wanted to see his eyes, his spirit, his playfulness! That opportunity was gone for me. But I had to reach deep down in my spirit and remember that we are all connected to eat other and our spirit lives on in our dreams we have created, our love for all beings, our inspirations to others and our passion for a better world. Dudley touched those he met, and didn’t meet. He touched me. His legacy is that of compassion, kindness, forgiveness and living as cruetly free as we can. His legacy is a commitment to preserve our environment and have respect and love for all animals. I thank you Dudley for being there in spirit on my journey to health and to be a more compassionate human being. Watch over all the animals and humans at The Gentle Barn….and thank you for you life, though short lived, it was a full life of love and gratitude and we are blessed by that gift you have left us….even if this heartbroken girl didn’t get to meet you in person. Your spirit lives on in me with every choice I make when I sit at a dinner table. Godspeed, Dudley, and thank you for your grace.
Please be sure to visit The Gentle Barn website, where you can send a donation and sponsor an animal and learn about this wonderful non profit. Also follow them on Facebook and Instagram. Photos courtesy of The Gentle Barn website and Facebook.
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