Posted on Jul 13, 2017
There are 32 million cows slaughtered in America each year. While Dudley had his life with us, 64 million cows had their lives taken from them. Unlike Dudley, none of them had names, or families, or homes. They never played ball, or ate peaches, or had peppermints sent to them from all over the world. None of those millions were able to fall in love or get married. They didn't give or get hugs. They were not able to heal amputees or foster children. They did not have birthday parties. When their lives ended, they certainly didn't have a memorial service. They are the invisible and the forgotten. Dudley gave them a name, a face, a personality, and a sense of humor. Dudley lived for them and he loved life for them. Because every single one of them would have been like Dudley, if they were only given the chance.
Dudley meant so much to so many people, and over the last few weeks we have gotten thousands of emails with people's amazing stories. Dudley helped people overcome depression, suicide, and eating disorders. He helped people adopt gentler diets and even inspired people to stop hunting and fishing. He affected children and adults of all ages and backgrounds. He helped people get through illnesses, surgeries, and disorders. He inspired all who met him and millions who had not. Dudley reached people in every state and in many countries around the world.
Dudley wasn't just loving, I believe he understood the importance of his work to the world. One of my fondest memories was when we hosted a group of foster children at the barn. These kids had gone through hell and back and desperately needed some unconditional love. When we brought the kids to see Dudley, he was busy playing with Destiny; head bonking, jumping up and down, and running around. He seemed too hyper to be safe for the kids, but I knew how badly they needed him. I approached Dudley and said, "Dudley, I can see that you're busy, but these kids really need you. Is there any way you could give them just ten minutes of your time?" Dudley turned to face the children and seemed to be thinking about it. Then he lay down and half closed his eyes, as if to answer, "yes!" The children got to hug Dudley and he held perfectly still for them, giving them all his love and energy. Once everyone had finished their turns, we all said thank you. The minute the kids started walking away, Dudley got up and resumed playing with Destiny.
There are many reasons why Dudley was important to people, and many ways he affected people, but I think he represented hope to all of us. No matter what we were going through, no matter how much pain or suffering was in our lives, no matter what was going on in the world, somehow if Dudley was in the world, there was hope. So now what do we do, now that Dudley is no longer of this world?
Now we all need to stand up and be the hope for Dudley! We must represent the gentleness and love and kindness that Dudley lived for. We must shine our gentle light so that others can see and learn from it. We must think gentle thoughts, speak gentle words, act gently, and eat gently. If Dudley can no longer be the hope for us, then we must be the hope for him. We must create a gentle world where all of us are acknowledged as sacred, sentient beings, with the same rights and freedoms, no matter if we have fur, feathers, or skin. Whether we fly, crawl, or swim. Whether we say meow, woof, moo, or hello. We need to know that we are all the same. We need to have greater love in our hearts for everyone, in every moment. We need to be the ones to create peace for all of us: humans, animals, Mother Earth, and especially the 32 million Dudleys a year that just need a chance!