Cow Hug TherapyBy: Ellie Laks


How the Animals at the Gentle Barn Taught Me about Life, Death, and Everything in Between

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“Our society is slowly waking up to the plight of animals, and more and more are taking steps to help wherever they can. We are acknowledging that animals have feelings, wants, and needs, much like our own, and animals are now much more like family members than ever before. But animals are also our healers, teachers, and witnesses. This is illustrated beautifully in Ellie Laks’s book Cow Hug Therapy, in which she shares stories of some of her wisest and most resilient rescued animals at the Gentle Barn and relays their messages of hope.”
— Montel Williams
“Many years ago, when my daughter was about three years old, we went to the Gentle Barn for the first time. We had heard so many wonderful things about this sanctuary, but I don’t think any of us knew what we would experience. A peacock hanging with pigs and llamas and sheep — I was blown away! But the thing that has stuck with me, and why we go back so much, is cow hugging. At first, I was trepidatious because they were so large and powerful. . .yet they’re gentle. Ellie said, ‘Lay your heart on them,’ and I felt a sense of calm I had never felt in my life. I’ve had a lot of traumas, but at that moment, my heartbeat matched their rhythm, and I could breathe. The most amazing moment, however, was watching my tiny daughter who has a lot of energy and ADHD. She lay upon one of the cows and closed her eyes, and she was at peace. So for the past ten years, we have gone to the Gentle Barn whenever possible, especially when feeling lost, scared, or sad, and we know that these moments heal our hearts. Ellie and Jay and all the volunteers at the Gentle Barn have dedicated their lives not only to loving and caring for these incredible animals, but to caring for us as well. Dare I say they’re angels? I was recently diagnosed with MS, and we made a trip there, and I actually left walking better. Thank you, cows. This book shows not only the power of Cow Hug Therapy with these wonderful creatures, but also their beautiful, individual personalities, which are evident when you meet them. I hope this book shows you how much of a blessing cows — and all creatures — are to our planet.”
— Christina Applegate
“I love animals, and, like Ellie Laks, I want to see a world where animals can live their own lives, free from human harm. Ellie’s book gives us the reasons why this is necessary and possible. In the stories of her rescued animals, it is clear that they have personalities, intelligence, and the capacity for profound emotions. The remarkable animals in her book teach us how to be better and happier humans. Cow Hug Therapy helps us all fall more deeply in love with animals, life, and ourselves. It’s a must-read for anyone who loves animals like I do, or for anyone walking their own path of self-discovery. I have been to the Gentle Barn many times and leave feeling more uplifted every time. This book is like a private tour of the Gentle Barn and a love story about these animals, all of whom are majestic, wise healers.”
— Moby
“Nonhuman animals need all the help they can get in an increasingly human-dominated world. The animals at the Gentle Barn are most fortunate to have Ellie Laks and her dedicated and tireless coworkers take care of them and give them a voice and much better lives than they previously had. Cows are highly emotional and sentient beings who deserve to be treated with dignity, compassion, and respect. Cow Hug Therapy clearly shows that when we care for other animals and honor who they are and what they need, we also profit, a win-win for all. This is a wonderful book and I hope it enjoys a global audience because its main messages and life lessons also apply to countless other animals who are used and abused in the name of humans.”
— Marc Bekoff, PhD, University of Colorado, author of Dogs Demystified and The Emotional Lives of Animals
Cow Hug Therapy by Ellie Laks should come with a warning: Tissue Alert! As you read this book, you will be transported into our original childlike wonder of the world where we hoped to wake up with a circle of cows around us, meditating and accepting us for all that we are. While reading this book, you’ll shed tears that are a beautiful and necessary jumble of joy, sadness, and awakening. Ellie’s stories read like a mix of a modern-day mystical-barnyard Beatrix Potter and James Herriot’s All Creatures Great and Small. The characterizations of these individual bigger-than-life cows are true to form. I know because I’ve been fortunate enough to have a friendship with Ellie and Karma. Every story is a delight, and the chapters progress through each of the cows who shaped Ellie and the evolution of the Gentle Barn. I so wish I had met Buddha, the cow who accidentally started Cow Hug Therapy.”
— Joan Ranquet, animal communicator, author, TEDx speaker, and founder of Communication with All Life University
“Ellie Laks’s experiences show readers that, contrary to traditional assumptions, the benefits of the human-animal bond extend to species beyond our domesticated pet dogs and cats. Relationships with cattle, horses, pigs, etc., are one of the most underutilized ‘natural resources’ because these animals are every bit as capable of having deep, meaningful connections with people. Cow Hug Therapy clearly demonstrates their advanced emotional and intellectual intelligence, as well as their resilience. I was most moved by Ellie’s personal stories that involved people experiencing or overcoming severe hardship forming bonds with animals that also had abusive pasts. This read is perfect for anyone who appreciates being reminded of what’s really important in life. At the very least, it clearly demonstrates why all our domesticated animals deserve to live humane lives.”
— Evan Antin, DVM
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