When someone calls the Gentle Barn and asks for our help, or we find out about an animal who is suffering and has no one else, we try our best to lend a hand in some way. This week we got a call from a woman and heard the most horrific story.
A cattle rancher in Tennessee spent many years buying young cows at auction bringing them home, fattening them up, and then selling them for a profit to be slaughtered. A few months ago, this man bought a group of baby cows and among them was a small boy cow later named Dudley who got bailing twine wrapped around his foot which constricted the blood flow and caused his foot to fall off. The calf could barely walk and for some reason the rancher took pity on him. When it came time to send the herd to slaughter, Dudley was spared and the farmer tried to make him well.
The rancher gave Dudley antibiotics to heal the raging infection but later did not have the funds to give Dudley further care, such as, a prosthetic limb or surgery. Over the last 10 months, Dudley had a very hard time standing or walking. Because he was limping so badly, his spine was out of alignment, his muscles had atrophied, and he was in pain.
In Tennessee, there was a vegan woman who found out about Dudley and begged the man to let her get Dudley to someone who could help him. When she called us, we immediately started calling veterinary hospitals and companies who manufactured prosthetics. With one of the leading bovine surgeons in Tennessee waiting to examine Dudley, and a prosthetics company on alert to create his missing foot, Jay and I boarded a plane bound for Nashville to save Dudley!
Dudley is only a year old. If allowed to, he would have still been nursing from his mom. When we rescue pregnant cows at The Gentle Barn, their babies typically nurse until about two-years of age because we never interfere with the mommy/ baby bond. Instead of being with a loving mom and a protective family, Dudley was ripped away from his mom at only a few months old, lost his foot, and was left to live in pain. The cows that he was with were rounded up and sent to slaughter after a few months leaving Dudley lonely. Like the inner city and at-risk children we host, Dudley had to grow up way too fast, and was robbed of his innocence and youth. Jay and I want to give it back to him!
When we landed in Tennessee, we immediately drove Dudley three hours to the University of Tennessee at Knoxville Large Animal Hospital to be examined by Dr. Anderson, an expert in bovine care and surgery. After an exam, x-rays of his foot, blood tests, and fecal exams, the surgeon told us that based on his condition and temperament and the nature of our organization, Dudley was an excellent candidate for a prosthetic limb. Dudley was then prepared for surgery where they amputated the damaged bone and muscle from his injury and fit him with a temporary prosthetic. While Dudley was recovering, a mold was made of his leg and sent to Ronnie Graves of VIP Veterinary Prosthetics and Orthotics to create a permanent prosthetic.
It wasn’t enough to focus solely on the leg. Dudley’s whole body was out of alignment and muscles were atrophied due to hobbling on a missing leg for so long before we found him. So while Dudley was recovering, he received acupuncture to help with pain and inflammation, E stim to help with muscle developments, chiropractic to straighten his spine, and underwater treadmill therapy to work out his muscles without straining his joints. Dudley was also neutered during this time so when he is released from the hospital he can live with a bovine family at The Gentle Barn.
The prosthetic foot was delivered a month later and it fit perfectly. We were warned by Dr. Anderson of the University of Tennessee, and, Ronnie, that fitting and acclimating someone to a prosthesis is a lengthy, very involved effort that would take some time. Each day Dudley’s residual limb had to be checked for swelling, blisters and sore spots, while his prosthesis was cleaned and inspected. About a week into the process, Dudley’s leg swelled and the piece didn’t seem to fit. It seemed that when Dudley was laying down his leg pushed the prosthesis and created a problem. So the prosthetic was sent back to VIP Veterinary Prosthetics and Orthotics for some adjustments. Meanwhile, we took some x-rays of his leg and discovered an infection and abnormal bone growths developing in Dudley’s legs, residual problems from his original injury. While we awaited the adjusted prosthetic’s return, Dudley had his fifth surgery to smooth the bone and clean the infection. The process was quick and the recovery easy; Dudley was soon back to normal.
Dudley stayed in the hospital for another couple of months, patiently going through the process of adjusting to life with a prosthetic limb. He completed his physical therapy to build his muscles, walk comfortably in his prosthesis, and obtain overall health. Once Dudley was completely healed and his prosthesis fit correctly, we needed to bring Dudley home to a Gentle Barn where he would finally find a loving family for the rest of his life. Since the drive to California is long and there is no large animal hospital nearby, we chose to keep Dudley in Tennessee where he can be on grass and near the University of Tennessee Hospital. It has been a goal of ours for years to start a Gentle Barn in every state so this is a perfect opportunity to start a second one. When Dudley is ready, Dudley will give hope and inspiration to thousands of war vets, seniors, and children dealing with physical challenges.
We couldn’t have done this without your support! Dudley's surgery, post-operative care, and prosthetic cost thousands of dollars, but we believe he is worth it! Thank you for helping us save Dudley, make him well, and enable him to pay it forward to people who need him.
The new Gentle Barn in Tennessee will open on Saturdays to visitors, starting on June 6 th. To meet Dudley, Worthy, Indie, Chris, and any other animals we might rescue while we are there, click here.
Thank you for loving Dudley with us!
Dudley got married!
When you sponsor an animal for yourself or as a gift, you will receive in the mail a Certificate of Sponsorship, your animal friend's bio, and a beautiful 5x7 photo!
You will also receive monthly updates by email letting you know how your animal friend is doing as well as an updated photo.