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I was watching Jack Hanna’s "Into the Wild" TV program a few days ago and he was traveling through his childhood state of Tennessee. One of the places Hanna visited was The Gentle Barn, a national non-profit animal sanctuary which, according to their website, rescues animals from "severe abuse and neglect who are too old, sick, lame, or scared to be adopted into homes."

The story featured a beautiful cow named Dudley who was playing with this great big colorful ball. He would hit it with his head, then he would chase it. I think Jack said this was his first time seeing a cow playing in such a manner.  As a young cow Dudley was severely injured when his ankle became entangled in bailing twine. After several days of having the blood flow to his lower leg being constricted his foot fell off. Dudley spent months suffering in pain hobbling in the pasture. As time went on his muscles atrophied and he lost weight. Finally, a friend of the rancher reached out to The Gentle Barn in hopes of finding help for poor Dudley.

Dudley spent five months at the University Tennessee Knoxville Large Animal Hospital and after multiple surgeries he was fitted with a prosthesis. After his long ordeal, Dudley got to come home to The Gentle Barn. A place where he would be taken care of and get to walk in the green grass. He was loved and cared for humanely. He lived his days at the farm as ‘King Cow.’ He played ball for hours and even found the love of his life in a cow named ‘Destiny’. The pair even had a wedding ceremony and shared birthday parties. Dudley’s story of perseverance helped give adult amputees hope. He loved children’s visits and hugs. His story helped people understand that animals feel and to not ignore one in pain like he was. Dudley was lucky to have survived and gone on to live a good life inspiring people from around the world.

I called The Gentle Barn to inquire about Dudley and the other animals living there. I chatted with a very nice young lady, and told her that I learned about the farm on “Into the Wild.” Dudley passed away in 2017 after only two years at The Gentle Barn. According to their website, “He developed an ulcer which ruptured and was irreparable.” But she told me about a 1-year-old goat named Lolli who lost her back feet, and the tips of her ears to frostbite.

As a result of her injuries, Lolli couldn’t keep up with the herd or her mom Minnie Mae, so she was getting left behind. Lolli and her mother were both brought to The Gentle Barn so they could stay together. Just like they had done with Dudley, the founders of The Gentle Barn drove Lolli University of Tennessee so she too could be fitted with prosthetics. Now she runs and plays with her mom in the sun. She can chase birds and explore the barn. She can bounce around just like any other goat. Lolli has a whole new life to enjoy and since she is just one-year-old she has an excellent in front of her as she and her mom enjoy their “forever home.”

Thanks to the veterinarians, surgeons, nurses, technicians, the prosthetists who fitted both Lolli and Dudley’s prosthetics, and everyone else involved in their recovery. God bless The Gentle Barn and the people who work day and night to save these abused and neglected animals.

Check out The Gentle Barn online (https://www.gentlebarn.org/) or take a trip to visit this amazing facility. Remember donations are always needed and welcomed to help care for these animals. Or maybe go to their Facebook page.

Dudley and Lolli’s stories really touched my heart. I can still see Dudley having the time of his life playing with that big ball. I want to thank Jack Hanna for introducing me to this amazing animal sanctuary. It was so heartwarming and Hanna’s love for all animals is amazing. The moral of this story is to never let animals suffer. If you see them in distress please get them help.

Dudley is gone but you can still visit Destiny, Lolli and the rest of the animals if you are ever in Tennessee.

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