Teaching People Kindness and Compassion to Animals, Each Other and our Planet.
Teaching People Kindness and Compassion to Animals, Each Other and our Planet.

Returning Home


Jay and I returned to Los Angeles this week. We are happy to be home but it was very difficult to leave Knoxville, Tennessee. The South is an amazing place where nature courts all five senses constantly. We felt Mother Nature on our skin through the humidity. We heard it all day long as the birds chirped and the frogs sang a lullaby. As far as the eye can see are green pastures and trees touching the sky. And, the air smells of fresh cut grass and flowers. We saw deer in the backyard, owls, and ground hogs. The rainstorms were warm and sultry and we had a show each evening from the lightning bugs. 

Dudley is a gentleman, wise beyond his years. Destiny is strong and decisive but when she finally lets us in, her affection is like a winning lottery ticket. Horton and Henry are a couple of playful little boys, always busy splashing in the mud - playing, skipping, and wagging their tails. With the slightest touch, however, they roll over for tummy rubs, close their eyes and smile while we pour our love into them. Our horses, Worthy, Indie, and Chris were not long ago afraid and defensive, ready to strike if necessary. Now they are sweet and innocent, playful, and seeking of our attention. Rick Springfield and his ladies, Jessie's Girl and Rosy, are now lap chickens who run to us when they see us and fall asleep in our arms. The animals have come home, healed, and embraced their happily ever after. Our staff are trained, our volunteers signed up, and, our work starting up The Gentle Barn was accomplished.

Even though our animals and facility in Los Angeles needed us back, it was excruciating to leave. How do we say farewell to those we have given our hearts and souls to?

Mike is staying in Tennessee and so the animals are in very good hands. They have already bonded to one another and all are happy and well cared for. Jay and I will return in September to start our Peace Enhancement Program for at risk, inner-city and special needs children in Tennessee. We have many agencies signing up already. We will return again in November to kick off our first Southern Gentle Barn Thanksgiving. Tickets for that event will be available shortly.

If you are able to, please visit The Gentle Barn Tennessee and feed the horses, hold the chickens, give the pigs tummy rubs, hug Dudley and Destiny for us, and tell Mike he's doing a great job!

We have left our hearts in Tennessee!

Written by Ellie Laks

Founder, The Gentle Barn

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Spotlight Sponsor of the Month

At Tomato Joe’s, we’ve had the privilege of seeing the bounty of Ellie and Jay’s important work blossom over the
years and we’re as excited as ever to watch their heart-warming story continue. We discovered The Gentle Barn
years ago when local food developer Angel McNall was working with our newly opened pizza shop developing her
amazing Vegan cheese that would ultimately become known to all as Follow Your Heart Mozzarella. After we
introduced the first Vegan pizza in SCV, we really had to fight hard to keep that dream going. It was the Gentle
Barn’s support and partnership that gave us the impetus to keep the dream alive in those challenging early days.
Ellie and Jay are such passionate and committed souls, and their mission is unequivocally improving our World,
one beautiful creature at a time! We are most proud sponsors and friends of The Gentle Barn.
“Tomato Joe” Brown,
Long Time SCV Peep & Founder
Tomato Joe’s Pizza & Taps Restaurant, Canyon Country

Tomato Joe’s offers a variety of delicious vegan options for pizza, pasta, salads, sandwiches, and appetizers.