By Denise Bitz, President
I hope you’ll watch this very special video, and let me know what you think. It’s about a little lamb named “Duck”, born without his front legs, saved by a compassionate, caring “farmer’s wife” and mother of her own child with a disability. These two will steal your heart and inspire you this Mother’s Day weekend.
I don’t have children of my own, but everyday I feel like a mom to all the animals in my family. With them, I do my best to model the same values of motherhood that my own sweet mother showed me- patience (she needed lots with my sister and me!), nurturing, and of course, love.
A mother’s love is a force of nature like no other– moms are fierce protectors of their babies. Moms are selfless and forgiving. They see all our faults and love us anyway. A mother’s love is unconditional.
Unconditional love is the foundation of “Uncompromised Compassion.” That’s our guiding ethic at Brother Wolf– we try to model uncompromised compassion in all our work for the animals; through our staff, volunteers and all the people we work with and help along the way.
Which brings me to Amy, a “farmer’s wife” as she calls herself. Amy is a force of nature! She is a mom who has had to deal with one of the toughest challenges any mother can face: a child with a debilitating disability.
At the age of three, Amy’s son was diagnosed with mercury poisoning. The poisoning caused permanent brain damage in her son, who now at the age of 21, has the functional intelligence of a first grader.
“I’ve fought for my son his whole life– against the medical industry that poisoned him, against the prejudice he has faced– and side-by-side with him, through all the treatments and medical testing, to help him overcome his challenges and thrive the best he can,” Amy said.
I just met Amy this past week. She had called Brother Wolf, asking if we could take in a lamb born at her farm a few weeks back. The lamb she named “Duck” (after a duck she’d rescued as a little girl) was born without his front legs. “It’s a birth defect we’ve never seen before,” she told me.
“He just wants so much to live, and he’s so sweet and loving. I won’t give up on him.”
Honestly, I was confused by her phone call. She was speaking to me from the voice of an animal rescuer- not from the voice of someone who raises animals to be sold and eventually slaughtered. I thought to myself, “don’t they all want to live?”
Amy and her husband are sheep farmers. They breed and sell sheep direct to local farms and by auction at the local stockyard. “We have about 70 sheep in our flock, and we’ve had over 60 lambs born this spring.”
“In another month or so, all the lambs will be sold at market,” she told me. I asked her what would happen to them, and she explained that some will be purchased as pets and others will be sold to local farmers to work into their farms.”
“And the rest of the lambs?” I asked. “Will they be slaughtered for meat?”
She was holding Duck, stroking his fur, as he nuzzled his head under her neck. After a long pause, she said, “I can’t go there- sorry. I’m not the farmer, just the farmer’s wife.”
“Do you eat them yourself,” I asked?
“Never. My husband bought a pig a few years back, raised him, and slaughtered him for meat. It was horrifying– I couldn’t… Eating these beautiful little creatures– I just can’t.”
Usually, when any farmer (or anyone who breeds or sells any animal for profit) asks Brother Wolf to take in an animal from them, we will tell them ‘no’ and explain why. Our policy is that we don’t want to enable any business that profits from the exploitation of animals- whether an animal farmer or a puppy mill.
In fact, I’d gone to visit Amy with the full intent of denying her request and explaining our policy. I’ll also admit that I was judging Amy even before I met her– I’d made her out to be this uncaring person in my head, when in reality, she is one of the kindest, most tender-hearted people I’ve ever met.
I could see how she struggled with the internal conflict every day of the work she did- and how it pained her heart to love the animals and then send them off…. And how this little lamb, she had lovingly named ‘Duck’ reminded her of her son.
“Being a mother is the hardest thing in the world,” Amy said. “It’s the scariest thing in the world, and it’s the greatest thing in the world. Everybody who is a mother can understand that.
“When you have someone in your life like my son, who’s had to endure so much, and never give up: it’s what always gives me hope. And when you see the same in an animal, like Duck here, you just wanna do the same for them….
You wanna stand up and scream to the world, ‘This is someone, and he’s gonna be someone!’
“That morning, when I first saw Duck, just born, laying there with no front legs, my mama instincts took over. I totally fell in love with him, and realized that even though he didn’t have legs, he deserved every second of life and all the love we could give him. He’s got so much love to give!
“For all those people who don’t have human babies, there’s lots of furry babies who need their love and who can give love back just as much as a human baby.”
Of course, we’ve agreed to take Duck into Brother Wolf’s care. He’ll be in foster till he’s weaned and able to go to our Sanctuary. We’ll get him a cart soon, in place of his front legs, so he’ll be able to get around and play.
And as far as Amy’s story goes, I have a feeling that we will stay in touch, and that our friendship based on our shared love for animals will grow. I know she shares my hope that one day, for the sake of other animals just like Duck, everyone will see how special these beings are….
From all us at Brother Wolf, we wish all of you fierce, loving nurturers a Happy Mother’s Day,
President and Founder
Brother Wolf Animal Rescue