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Tuesday, November 30, 2021

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Cow Cuddling Co.

A local cow lover has found a way to give each of his four-legged friends the life of their dreams while also creating employment for people living with intellectual disabilities.

Lawrence Fox was one of many Australians who was struggling emotionally during the coronavirus pandemic. He was suffering from mental health difficulties brought on by a lost love of his corporate job and forced distance from his Melbourne-based partner due to lockdowns.

Fortunately for Lawrence, he had several four-legged friends helping him get by.

Amy, Ella, Holly, Sally, Sophia and Milkshake were donated to Gordonvale State High School as calves to assist with an agricultural project focusing on the cattle industry. The six of them were lovingly hand-raised at the school, and by the time they were returned to their original owner she felt they were so used to human contact that it would be unfair to return them to the herd.

Instead, they were gifted to a neighbouring farm and one of Lawrence’s good friends to be used for breeding.

Although Lawrence accepted that breeding was an inevitable part of the cattle industry, he said he had grown to care for the cows so much that he wanted to spare them the distress of having their calves taken away from them.

Pictured: Lawrence Fox with his four-legged friends.

“When I eventually realised they weren’t just pet cows, they were breeding cows, I felt that I needed to take them out of that situation and allow them to just do what they do best, which is spend time with people and make people feel better,” said Lawrence.

“Initially it was really just me purchasing the cows, then Cow Cuddling Co. came about because I needed to find a way to build a sustainable business model around them.

“I discovered that in the Netherlands and across the US there’s cow therapy. The only prerequisite for cows in cow therapy is that they are hand raised and used to human contact so they’re able to be touched and hugged.

“The girls were perfect for it.”

While the idea was borne from a wish to give his bovine friends a happier life, Lawrence saw the potential to share the benefits with humans as well, and with the help of WorkLink he has begun employing locals living with intellectual disabilities to help him take care of the cows.

People don’t just need money to live; people need to be fulfilled.

He said improving upon the lack of opportunities for those living with unique needs was a cause very close to his heart after seeing his sister-in-law with ASD gain employment through Laser Clinics Australia in Cairns Central.

“I was able to see how proud her mum was, to the point of being in tears,” said Lawrence.

“After 20, nearly 30, years of questioning what sort of quality of life your child is going to have, to see them get a job in their own right and to see their pride was pretty meaningful and very inspirational to me.”

Lawrence said it was important for more employers to look at how they can expand their own workforce to create more opportunities.

“I think employers in general are some of the best people in the country.

Photo courtesy of Peyton Blake Photography. Model from Emerge Model Management.

“We know that about 80 per cent of employees in Australia are employed by small businesses, and regardless of whether you’re employing anyone with physical disabilities, intellectual disabilities, mental illnesses or unique mental health, you’re doing a great thing by employing people,” he said.

“So I don’t think that there is a lack of desire to do the right thing, I think there’s probably just a lack of information going out to employers.

“There are government subsidies in place if they are willing to extend themselves and find a role for someone with unique needs.”

And he said the benefits extended even beyond the immediate employee.

“I think we live in a world where a lot of people go, ‘I hate my boss and work sucks,’ and that’s just kind of the accepted mentality around being employed.

“But if you’re working with someone who for their whole life, their dream was to just have a job and to be accepted, and they’re there and they’re happy every day and very proud of having that job, that rubs off.

“People don’t just need money to live; people need to be fulfilled. Just feeling needed and feeling like you are useful and wanted is huge.”

Connect // cowcuddlingco.com

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