Stanley is a one-year-old Black Angus Steer. He weighs about 1100 pounds and has jet-black hide. He may look like a menacing bull, but nothing could be further from the truth. One look into his big eyes and a nudge from his adorable, wet nose means that he is amenable to hugs, cuddles, kisses, and anything else anyone and everyone who needs some tenderness might need.

We met Stanley the Steer - and we admit we did get some cuddles in - in fact a lot of cuddles. (Photo by Anna Ferensowicz)We met Stanley the Steer - and we admit we did get some cuddles in - in fact, a lot of cuddles. (Photo by Anna Ferensowicz)

So what do Stanley and REID the Mental Health Awareness Cow - a green and white plushie that can fit into the palm of one's hand have in common? Airdronian Courtney Reid, Stanley's owner, said that it was her own mental health struggles that prompted her to want to be able to share some of the solace she found with Stanley with others.

"I was going through a pretty rough patch [last year] and I know I'm one of the lucky ones -  that I have the support. But when you're in those dark times, you can't see it," she said. "Then I got him [Stanley] and I would just go hang out with him and cry. Stanley is like a therapy cow to me. He just knows when you're upset. He'll love you back. He has no mean bones on his body."

Originally, Reid's husband, a local farmer, acquired Stanley from a feedlot. Reid said that the initial plan was that he would have been sold at an auction, but fate had other plans for him. While Reid wishes she could take Stanley everywhere she goes, as his presence has a zen-like effect on anyone who is near him, alas, it may be a bit difficult given his size - though his behaviour is impeccable. Hence, she decided to encapsulate everything Stanley means to her into a smaller version. And so, after talking to a supplier of hers, the idea of REID was born. 

$10 from each stuffie sold will go towards various local mental health organizations. Reid said she has already donated towards the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Inpatient Services at the Alberta Children's Hospital and as well as the Airdrie Addiction & Mental Health Clinic. She plans on continuing to donate to other various organizations to support mental health in the coming weeks and months. 

"We ordered 600 [stuffed cows]; 530 of them are sold. So, we have another donation going out. Then [we have] another 1000 coming today. That will be another $10,000 to charity. There's a waitlist currently of just shy of 300 people that want Reid," she said. "The word has spread everywhere. Reid is across Canada and he's in the States now."

When asked why she didn't name the green-and-white plushie after Stanley, considering he is the muse, she said that REID is more than just a name. REID stands for a mantra, that you are: Resilient, Enough, Important, and Deserving. 

As Reid discussed her mental health struggles, at times becoming overcome with emotion, Stanley stands stoically nearby. Reid admits that even though she continues to sometimes have off-kilter days with her mental health, she still wants to impart advice to those who may be in the same place she was a year ago. 

"Give it give it three days; breathe. Get through today. But tomorrow you're going to wake up and it's a brand new day and there are so many people that love you," she said. "It's okay not to be okay right now - but you will be."

Stanley also has his very own REID plushie, though, during this particular afternoon, he wasn't too interested in playing with his miniature self, though he seemed fascinated by the sounds being emitted from Discover Airdrie's camera. 

"I think if you're having a tough time - you hug an animal and you can just feel it. They can sense it in you. If he sees me - he'll run over to the gate and he just loves it. Animals can change your life."

You can get REID at any of the Central Discount House locations in Airdrie, Olds, Calgary and Strathmore. For those who want to pre-order, orders can be made here

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