Posted on Oct 08, 2021
By Ellie Laks, Founder of The Gentle Barn
We rescue animals from all kinds of circumstances, from all kinds of places. Some come from local cruelty cases, slaughterhouses, and shelters, and some come from all over the united states. Some animals have gone through hell and back and come to recover at The Gentle Barn, and some are lucky enough to escape what was about to happen to them. I believe that they know what is about to happen, and some just won’t stand for it. Earl, Lillie, and Houdini were about to befall terrible circumstances but never had to because they escaped. We are so grateful they did, as they will be safe and sound at The Gentle Barn for the rest of their lives.
Earl is an emu with orange eyes, huge dinosaur feet, tiny wings, and thin, long twin feathers all over his body. He lived on an emu farm where they were processed for their oil and meat. Most succumbed to their fate without much of a fight, invisible and silent to the rest of the world. I guess Earl was not finished with this life and knew he deserved more because he somehow managed to escape. He succeeded in outwitting authorities for a few days until they finally caught up with him, bringing him to the animal shelter. After several months of no one claiming him or adopting him, the shelter asked us to bring Earl home to The Gentle Barn. For the first few months, Earl paced frantically along our fences, trying to get out. He had no idea who we were, or that we treated animals differently than most places. Slowly Earl began trusting us and started making friends. He discovered the hose on hot days, afternoon treats of watermelon and broccoli, and the gentle hands of every guest and volunteer. Some days Earl loves hugs and cuddles, and others he prefers to be undisturbed. He loves morning jogs around the barnyard with our llama, Skip, and he always gets apples for dinner. I am so glad Earl fought for a better life, and we strive to help him live his very best life every single day at The Gentle Barn California!
Lillie was headed to slaughter when the truck stopped at a gas station to fill up. The man in the car next to them, Matt had been to The Gentle Barn before and noticed that Lillie seemed so much smaller than the others, dehydrated, scared, and so innocent. Matt asked the trucker if Lillie could be spared and miraculously, the trucker agreed. Matt then drove Lillie five hours to The Gentle Barn to grow big and strong, be loved and cherished, and help open hearts to the intelligence and affection of pigs everywhere. Lillie is big now, but her perky ears, round shiny eyes, and love of blowing bubbles in her pool, keeps her seeming like a baby. I wish with all my heart that all the pigs on that truck could have been spared, but Lillie lives each day on behalf of all pigs who can’t, in the hopes that one day all pigs will be given tummy rubs, soft beds, and good night kisses at The Gentle Barn Tennessee!
Houdini was inside the slaughterhouse. It was the end of the road for him and his five friends. Instead of waiting for their death, they crashed through three fences and ran for their lives, gaining the attention of national media and animal lovers around the world. Their attempts at life brought them to The Gentle Barn where they learned to trust and forgive, let go and move on, and become cuddle cows doling out hugs and wisdom to all who visit. Houdini is now five years old and full-grown, but will always be innocent, curious, and full of life at The Gentle Barn Missouri.
The truth is that all animals want to live, just like we do. They have friends, love their children, and even mate for life. Some fight to survive more than others. Some are lucky enough to escape, while others are not. But all animals would choose life if they could. What Earl, Lillie, and Houdini have taught me is that there is never such thing as a dead end. We might think that we are out of options, and we might think that there is nothing more we can do, but when we refuse to take “no” for an answer, when we never give up, when we keep problem-solving, we come up with the answers to help us keep going and thriving. Whether we are human or animal, we all have a story to tell. Thank you for loving our animals with us and listening to their stories, and thank you for allowing our animals to be a part of your own story of gentleness.