Dudley was just a few months old when his life really began to fall apart

Dudley was just a few months old when his life began to fall apart.

At two months old, the calf was taken from his mother and sold to a cattle rancher who planned to fatten him up and sell him for slaughter. To make matters worse, a piece of baling twine had become wrapped around his foot at some point, constricting the animal’s blood flow so badly his foot fell off.

Noticing this, the cattle rancher took pity on him and decided not to sell the cow. After Dudley was spared, his leg wouldn’t heal, and missing the foot made it difficult for him to walk or stand for extended periods of time.

“He was leaning over and trying to compensate he really contorted himself,” Jay Weiner told PEOPLE about the calf’s struggles.

Weiner and Ellie Laks co-founded the Gentle Barn, a foundation and animal sanctuary in Santa Clarita, California, that’s home to more than 170 rescued animals. The pair were called in to rescue Dudley after his story gained local attention.

Credit: The Gentle Barn Foundation

“When we got there, it was really cold, the ground was frozen, and he had been walking around for ten months on his missing foot,” Weiner tells PEOPLE. “He was scared of people, nervous to approach, definitely in pain, seemed like he’d given up hope.”

“He came in with a herd of cows and then they got sold off to be slaughtered, then another herd came and they got sold off and he was left alone each time. It must have been very scary and very lonely and very confusing for him.”

After getting Dudley much-needed veterinary attention, Laks and Weiner had him fitted with a prosthetic leg that would allow him to walk and stand again.

“The first time he [tried on the prosthesis] he kicked out,” says Weiner. Then, “he sort of slowly realized it was something that was helping him. Now when we put it on it’s just any old thing.”

“If he didn’t have this attitude about life and this way about him, we would never have been able to help him.”

They’ve found another way to put Dudley’s amazing attitude to good use: As part of the Gentle Barn’s outreach programs, he’ll work with veteran amputees and differently-abled children.

“They can connect with his story and he can provide that healing for them, and they can provide that healing for him,” says Weiner.

“You can’t have a bad day and hug a cow.”

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