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

Homage to my greatest teacher

This month marks the 3rd anniversary of Buddha’s transition, but it feels like yesterday. Buddha was my partner, my teacher, my confidante, and my friend, and when she left it was by far the most painful thing that has ever happened to me. I know she is still with me in spirit and will always love me, but not being able to bury my face in her fuzzy shoulder and wrap my arms around her causes an ache inside me that will never go away.
The minute I met Buddha I knew for sure that she was no “ordinary” cow. She would lie down in the middle of a crowd of people and close her eyes, allowing them to cuddle with her. She seemed like she was giving them all of her energy. People came to see her from all over the world and often people would burst into tears upon seeing her. Buddha gave out over 300,000 hugs in her lifetime.

Part of Buddha’s tremendous work here was when she helped me with the at-risk children we hosted. They would come into The Gentle Barn angry, shut down, and closed off. The first thing I would do was bring these teens to Buddha and ask them to hug her. At first, they would refuse - not wanting to get dirty or seem weak to the other kids. But soon Buddha’s reassuring charm would win them over and they would put their faces down on her soft back. The minute their cheeks hit her furry warmth, their faces would melt and soften, and they would become humble, vulnerable, and young again. For the few hours that they were at The Gentle Barn, these kids could forget about their harsh lives and their struggles, just have fun, and remember how to be curious, open, and love life again.

Hugging Buddha was like hugging unconditional love. She had no expectations as to how we needed to show up. She had no judgments on what we had done or who we were. She just loved. She had a great sense of humor too! She loved to play and run, tossing bouncy balls and playing with the other animals. She got along with everyone and everyone, animal and human alike, seemed to seek refuge with her.

One time we rescued a pig named Susie Q and Buddha played an integral part in her healing. Susie Q was a large brown pig with floppy ears who smelled like maple syrup. She had been at a slaughterhouse and escaped. She must have seen and heard some really horrendous things and when she came to the barn she was visibly depressed and in shock. Susie Q lay in the corner of the yard and did not get up or eat. The other animals came and went but Buddha planted herself next to Susie Q and did not budge for six days. Finally, because she was no longer alone and now had a friend, Susie Q got up on the 6th day. Buddha showed her where the food, water, and bedrooms were and from then on Buddha and Susie Q were best friends and did everything together. We saved Susie Q’s life but it was Buddha that revived her and helped her find joy again.

Buddha taught the world who cows really were. She helped people see the beauty, magic, intelligence in all living beings. She helped them open their hearts to animals and make kinder choices. She was a giant force for good in our barnyard and guests could feel her energy the minute they entered the property. She understood forgiveness, living in the moment, real courage and embracing second chances, and modeled that for children overcoming their own challenges. Buddha really knew who she was and what her purpose was and helped me find myself. She helped me open and run The Gentle Barn. She helped me learn how to help the kids we hosted be vulnerable. She helped me find my strength and my center. And, she was always my rock and my shoulder to cry on.

At first when she left her body I didn’t think I could do this work without her. I honestly didn’t think I could get through one day. I could not get out of bed or stop crying. I felt lost and alone. Slowly over the course of time, I started hearing her voice in my head beckoning me to get up and continue my path. I spent months sorting through the grief and dwelling in memories of her. Slowly the grief turned to gratitude that this enormous being, this shining magical light had been in my barnyard and in my life, how blessed was I?! She could have lived anywhere but she chose me. I will never forget her hugs and the baby powder way she smelled. I will always remember the way she played with so much wonder and joy. I’ll never forget the way people’s faces looked after hugging her; wide open and changed forever.

If you were lucky enough to be one of those people that got to meet her, please write to us and share pictures and stories with us. info@gentlebarn.org If you never got to meet her, you can read about her in my book, My Gentle Barn, available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, www.gentlebarn.org, and wherever books are sold.

Thank you Buddha for spending thirteen years with me and for being my greatest teacher and inspiration!

Written by Ellie Laks
Founder, The Gentle Barn

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The Dr. Praeger’s team is excited to be the Gentle 12 sponsor for July. At Dr. Praeger's, we strive to help people adopt better eating habits by offering a variety of delicious veggie-forward products. We support Gentle Barn’s mission of kindness and compassion to animals, one another and the planet. – Dr. Praeger’s Team