Posted on Jun 10, 2021
By Ellie Laks, Founder of The Gentle Barn
At The Gentle Barn, we rescue severely abused and neglected animals who have nowhere else to go. Sometimes it takes years for them to set their pasts down and recover from former scars. Then there are animals who with little time and care, blossom and thrive. Like a wilted flower, all they need is a little attention and they radiate happiness and joy! Sometimes it is easier for younger animals to heal than older animals. Sometimes it depends on the severity of their abuse or neglect. Other times it just depends on their personalities. King, Merlin, and Ella have troubled pasts, but you would never know it. They each recovered very quickly at The Gentle Barn and are now a breath of fresh air in our barnyards!
When King arrived at our California location, he was full of fear and cowered behind the other llama he came with. With a little time, he came out of his shell, realized that he was safe, and became the king of the sheep and goats. He lays with them, eats with them, and keeps watch all night so they can sleep safe and sound. He takes turns spending time with each of them, so they all know they are special. He loves cookies and when he sees me coming, he comes running. King does not like being pet or touched, but he does enjoy taking selfies and will pose for pictures with our guests. King is very affectionate and will kiss us right on the mouth when we hold still. He is absolutely a fan favorite animal ambassador and is looking forward to reopening on Sundays to the public to give out even more kisses!
Merlin came into our Nashville location like a movie star. Open, loving, affectionate, and full of life, he stole all our hearts, humans and animals alike. Even our very opinionated and can be grouchy miniature horse had no choice but to love him; Merlin refused to take “no” for an answer. He hadn’t always received the best care, but instead of complaining about it, he was just grateful for the care he was getting now that he was with us. He is gentle with children and smaller animals like the chickens and turkeys, he is playful with his daughter Lolli and his wife Mini Mae, and he is so charming that he has become quite the celebrity. With his long white beard, golden eyes, and magical personality, Merlin could not have been more perfectly named, or a more perfect addition to The Gentle Barn!
Ella was obliviously unaware that she was headed to slaughter and thankfully fell off the truck. After asking kind people for help, she was driven to The Gentle Barn for a much better outcome. We had our volunteers with her around the clock feeding, holding, and sleeping with her, and she soon became the darling of our Missouri family. Ella most likely does not recall the cruelty she experienced before heading our way, and thankfully she will never know the horrors her kind suffers every day. Instead, her innocence is intact, she has friends and family, she is safe and adored, and her pixie-like happy face, dance in her step, and a wag of her tail makes everyone smile.
King, Merlin, and Ella could have very easily been permanently damaged by their past traumas, but instead, choose to delight in the joy of every day. I think they have so much to teach us about how we too can approach life. We all have the choice to either be scared or unburdened by the past, closed to love or open and vulnerable, and heavy of heart or free. No matter what we have all done or experienced, we can redefine ourselves, choose a new path to walk upon, and create very exciting futures. Come visit a Gentle Barn near you, be inspired by our animals and their stories of resilience, and let them lift you up to the hope of infinite possibilities!