The Gentle Barn Interview with Founder Ellie Laks

In our March issue we interviewed Ellie Laks from The Gentle Barn, as part of our series on inspirational women. Thank you very much to Ellie for taking part in this interview for Online Personal Stylist magazine, it was a pleasure to learn more about her amazing story!

The Gentle Barn Interview with Founder Ellie Laks

Ellie Laks is The Founder of The Gentle Barn Foundation, a national organization that rescues and rehabilitates unwanted animals, and heals people with the same stories of abuse and neglect. She is the author of “My Gentle Barn: Creating a sanctuary where animals heal, and children learn to hope”. She is a TEDx speaker, and an animal communicator. It is Ellie’s goal to be the voice for animals, share their stories, and open the hearts of humanity towards all living beings.

 

Online Personal Stylist: It’s great to speak to you Ellie. For those who are unfamiliar with your work, could you tell us a little bit about yourself?

 

Ellie: Sure. I am Ellie Laks, a wife, mom, empath, animal communicator, and healer. I get to save, rescue, rehabilitate, and speak with animals every day and then share their stories to open the hearts of humanity to how beautiful animals are. Then I get to partner with the animals to help people recover from their own trauma and circumstances.

 

OPS: That’s incredible! What made you start The Gentle Barn?

 

E: The Gentle Barn was my dream since I was seven-year-old. I have always loved animals but those around me saw them as objects instead of the teachers, healers and friends I saw them as. Since I was a child, I would tell anyone who would listen that when I grew up I would have a big place full of animals and I would show the world how beautiful they are and then all the lonely people of the world would come heal with us.

It was actually an abusive petting zoo that I discovered as a young adult that gave birth to my dream. I started taking the abused and neglected animals’ home to my half acre back yard and months later realized that I had started my dream. The whole story is in my book, My Gentle Barn.

 

OPS: Would you be able to introduce us to a few of the furry residents at your barn?

 

E: The Gentle Barn is located in California, Tennessee, and Missouri. We have close to two hundred rescued animals at The Gentle Barn. We are home to horses, cows, donkeys, pigs, sheep, goats, chickens, turkeys, llamas, emus, dogs, a parrot and a pigeon. They are all magical with amazing personalities and stories of resilience. One of the most recently rescued animals at the barn is a calf named John Lewis who was rescued right in the middle of the pandemic. He was born inside a slaughterhouse and we were able to save his life. He came to us orphaned at a week old and very sick with pneumonia. It was very hot in Los Angeles and were unable to cool down the barn enough to heal him. We realized that we were losing him. In a desperate attempt to save his life, we brought him into our house. I moved downstairs to be his mom, and with the air conditioning, great vet care, and love, Lewis recovered. Because he was in the house for close to five months, he acts much more like a dog than a cow. He walks on leash, sleeps on a dog bed, plays with our other dog, Sky, and always comes running when we call him. He is now helping us host “Cow Hug Therapy sessions” where guests get to come meditate, hug cows, and meet John Lewis, to help heal and move forward from the last year.

The Gentle Barn Interview with Founder Ellie Laks

OPS: How does your furry family enjoy spending their time at the barn?

 

E: All our animals are so happy at The Gentle Barn. The youngsters romp and play, the elders nap under giant shade trees, or sunbath. They all get brushed and groomed each morning, play all afternoon, and get bedtime cookies at night. Our staff works very hard to care for everyone, and there are always volunteers lavishing affections on each animal.

 

OPS: It sounds incredible! What struggles have you faced along the way?

 

E: This has been a remarkable twenty-one-year journey with many accomplishments and creativity, as well as challenges. There have been financial challenges of course, learning to fundraise and care for so many.

There were hard lessons learning how to choose, screen, and train affective volunteers. And we have had to get through compassion fatigue and sorrow over losing our beloved animals and not being able to save them all.

But with each struggle came the answers and implementation of newer procedures and ideas to overcome and keep going.

 

OPS: We can imagine how tough that must be. Have you always been interested in animal welfare. If not, what was the turning point for you?

 

E: I have always loved animals since I was very young. I remember sitting in the woods with wild bunnies at three years old, sloshing around in the lakes with the ducks and turtles as my friends at seven, and going vegetarian at eleven when I held a chicken. I have always seen them as my teachers, healers, and friends and was always amazed when others were not.

 

OPS: What’s the best thing about your work? What do you enjoy most?

 

E: The best thing about my work is when I get to take new, injured, broken, defeated animals and breath the life back into them. I talk to them and hear their stories. I sing to them, read out loud to them, and spend hours holding them. Seeing the joy come back into their eyes, the life come back into their bodies, and see them making friends and having fun always takes my breath away.

Helping others with their animals also brings so much satisfaction to me. Being an animal communicator and giving animals a voice, listening to what they need, want and feel and then helping their people make a plan to help the animal feel better is so satisfying as well!

The Gentle Barn Interview with Founder Ellie Laks

OPS: Have you learned any interesting lessons throughout your journey?

 

E: I have learned to trust my instincts. I have learned to practice self-care. And I have learned that though we all may look different, we are all the same.

 

OPS: Describe what an average day looks like for you.

 

E: I typically start my days at six feeding and cleaning up after our animals. Once they are all taken care of, I spend a few hours doing animal communication readings for other people. Then I usually host a tour or “Cow Hug Therapy session” for guests who come from around the world. Then I get to write blogs and articles, train and oversee staff, oversee the care and treatment of our animals, visit with veterinarians, acupuncturists, massage therapists, and energy workers, and end the day feeding everyone dinner and tucking them all into bed. I go to sleep at about ten or eleven.

 

OPS: What’s the best thing about your work? What do you enjoy most?

 

E: The best thing about my work is when I get to take new, injured, broken, defeated animals and breath the life back into them. I talk to them and hear their stories. I sing to them, read out loud to them, and spend hours holding them. Seeing the joy come back into their eyes, the life come back into their bodies, and see them making friends and having fun always takes my breath away.

Helping others with their animals also brings so much satisfaction to me. Being an animal communicator and giving animals a voice, listening to what they need, want and feel and then helping their people make a plan to help the animal feel better is so satisfying as well!

 

OPS: Have you learned any interesting lessons throughout your journey?

 

E: I have learned to trust my instincts. I have learned to practice self-care. And I have learned that though we all may look different, we are all the same.

 

OPS: What advice would you give to anybody who wants to follow in your footsteps?

 

E: Never give up or take “no” for an answer. Trust in yourself and in your vision. Know what your vision is and why you want your dream and then have faith that the how will find you.

 

OPS: How can we get involved or help you with the amazing work you do?

 

E: We can only save and heal animals with the communities help and support. You can go to www.gentlebarn.org and donate or sponsor an animal and get monthly updates and new pictures of how they are doing. Please follow us on social media! And come hug a cow and fall in love!

www.gentlebarn.org

@thegentlebarn

www.ellielaks.org

@ellielaks


Read the rest of our March issue here MARCH 2021 Online Personal Stylist magazine


 

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