REAL LIFE

My Cows Are Therapists

Lawrence's gentle giants are healing hearts
  • With the Covid-19 pandemic in full swing, Lawrence Fox, 34, escaped the city life to isolate on a friend’s farm.
  • Working as a strategist, his work environment was high pace, high stress and seven days a week.
  • Needing a break, he quit his job and bought a herd of cows, setting up Cow Cuddling Co.
  • Now he has has a herd of bovine therapists!

Here Lawrence tells his story in his own words

Lying out in the paddock, fresh air filled my lungs as I cuddled up with my new friend, and all my worries melted away.

I am right where I’m meant to be, I thought.

But my new friend wasn’t just anyone – she was a 500-kilogram gentle giant, a cow called Sophia.

Just three months earlier, I was an unhappy shell of a man, stuck in the nine to five grind, in a career that no longer fulfilled me.

Working as a strategist, my work environment was high pace, high stress and seven days a week.

With the pandemic in full swing, my partner, Hannah, 29, and I found ourselves stuck living in separate states.

We were supposed to be together in Cairns, Qld, but Hannah was in Melbourne for work.

Feeling anxious about navigating COVID-19 on my own, I decided to isolate on my friend’s farm.

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Cuddling with Amy (Credit: Supplied)

My new home was a breath of fresh air, and I was sharing it with 11 cows.

In 2015, Hannah and I had been introduced to the cows as family pets, or as I like to call them, 500-kilo labradors!

Loving to socialise, the girls would wander over to the fence line and join us for a chat and pat.

It wasn’t until 2019, that I began visiting my friend and his cows more often.

Patting them from over the fence turned to cuddles in the paddock.

My friend would often find Hannah and me lying in the field and make a joke about who we’d really come to see.

I always knew there was something special about this herd, I just hadn’t placed my finger on what that was yet.

I found the cows calming and, having now moved to the farm, I noticed a shift in my mental health.

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Amy loves a chin scratch (Credit: Supplied)

I began having breakfast, lunch and tea in the paddock with the golden girls, including Amy, Ella, Holly, Sophia, Sally, Milkshake, and Babyccino.

I’d get up close and give them a cuddle, and even lie down with them – and I talked their ears off!

‘The more time I spend with them, the less stressed I feel,’ I told my friend.

Why? I wondered.

While searching online, I discovered there was a link between mental health and animal therapy.

When we are close to these large animals, our heart rate slows down creating a calming effect.

The love chemical oxytocin is released, and we begin to feel connected with the creatures.

An idea began to form when my friend told me he and his partner were expecting a baby and needed to part ways with the cows.

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Babyccino and Milkshake (Credit: Supplied)

Feeling empowered after spending the morning with the cows, I gathered up 30 seconds of courage and dialled my boss’ number.

‘I quit,’ I said.

The words fell out of my mouth before I could give it a second thought. 

A moment passed before I dialled Hannah’s number.

‘I just quit my job!’ I told her, unsure about what she’d think.

‘I’m going to buy the herd and open a cow therapy clinic,’ I added.

Worried I’d let her down, I was relieved when she said, ‘I’m so proud of you.’

Buying the herd, I had one goal – to help others benefit from animal therapy, too.

Opening Cow Cuddling Co. in July 2021, at Goldsborough Valley, a property near Cairns, I hired my seven friends as animal therapists.

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Me and Hannah (Credit: Supplied)

Hannah and I now both live in Queensland and the McCowington gang, as I call them, are proving to be a great bunch to work with.

They earn their keep by grazing from one side of the paddock to the other, cuddling kids and even sleeping on the job.

They feed in the morning before finding the perfect spot to set up and patiently wait for their clients.

Getting close to these gentle creatures can make a real difference.

It’s especially rewarding to see children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) spend time with the girls.

These kids can find social connection difficult, but bonding with the cows can help some find their voice.

‘My son is like a different child,’ one mother told me.

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A visitor with Milkshak (Credit: Supplied)

The cows’ personalities shine through.

‘Milkshake is an independent single mum working to earn a living,’ I tell kids playing with her calf Babyccino. 

‘Sophia is the work mum, a bossy lady who knows what she wants,’ I explain as her client gives her a scratch.

Meanwhile Sally makes it clear to the bull she doesn’t need a man, Amy prefers people to cows, Holly loves kids and Ella is the boss.

Now, when I stand in the paddock, I can’t believe how much my life has changed.

Creating my career as a cow cuddler is the best mooove I’ve ever made.

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Amy prefers people to cows (Credit: Supplied)

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