Meet Marley – he’s the sheep who’s currently having lessons on how to be a lamb because, well, he thinks he’s a pup!
The ultra-fluffy, Valais Blacknose Valley pet was orphaned, but luckily, he was taken in by a family and has since become best mates with their dog, Jess.
Marley, who’s only six-months-old, is now so big he’s had to move outside.
There’s just one problem though – Marley is a sheep who doesn’t like the cold, wind or rain – he doesn’t even know to eat grass, the poor thing!
Marley is a Swiss breed, who would normally be at home in the Alps, yet he’s become more accustomed to lying in a dog bed, in front of the Aga.
He eats from bowls – sometimes with Jess – and goes out for family walks – even though he’d much prefer to be inside, cosied up with his family.
Unfortunately yet inevitably, Marley has quadrupled in size and has now grown larger than the family’s Labrador – Jess.
34-year-old mum-of-two, Ali Vaughan, who adopted Marley said:
We absolutely love animals and have always had ducks and dogs, but when we moved into a farmhouse in September, with three acres of land, it seemed natural that we should add to our animal family.
Marley’s arrival came about when Ali – who runs her company Mucky Ducky from home – spotted an advert on Facebook from a local farmer, who was appealing for a 5* home for an orphaned sheep – she knew she had to have him.
Ali, who originally hails from Portrush, Northern Ireland, revealed:
We had a massive garden that was really overgrown so I thought a sheep would be ideal for keeping it sufficiently mowed.
Little did I know it’d be a while before he chomped his first bit of grass.
Marley’s breed is wild and shaggy so when he arrived at the family home in the beautiful village of Rickerby, Carlisle, Cumbria, he resembled a poodle – both in appearance and size. He was quite small.
The family, including 37-year-old dad, Adam, as well as kids, 10-year-old Ella and four-year-old Max, were taught how to feed Marley with a bottle.
Yet within two weeks of having the little lamb, Marley contracted an illness called joint-ill – a common cause of lameness in young lambs where one or more joints can be infected and swollen.
This resulted in him needing constant care and was so stiff, it would take him 15 minutes to get up onto his feet.
Due to limited mobility, Ali bought Marley his own dog bed and placed it in front of the warm Aga in the kitchen.
This is when the dog-like behaviour started according to Ali:
Our dog, Jess, immediately took to Marley and would lie at the side of him at night. It soon became clear Marley was picking up traits from Jess.
The pair became best friends and would do everything together, and as the family nursed Marley back to full health, he would accompany them on their dog walks – even becoming excited at the prospect of walkies!
However, there was a point when the family thought they may have to put Marley out of his misery.
They put him on antibiotics, with Ali driving him back and forth to the vet each day so he could complete the course.
Luckily, the effect was immediate and he was soon back to his bright and happy self, though he’d now developed a loathing of the outdoors.
Whenever we try to get Marley outside he puts up a fight and he’s so much bigger now, it’s not an easy feat.
When we do finally get him outside you have to be careful opening the door, if he notices it’s open, he’ll make a mad dash to get back in.
So now the family have got another sheep, a brown Ryeland called Bear – because, you guessed it, he looks like a bear.
I knew we needed to get Marley a sheep companion, we want him to know he’s a sheep and to be outdoors like a sheep – after all he’s not very well house-trained.
We have a barn where he should be staying where it’s nice and cosy.
How amazing! Good luck to Ali and her family with their mini-zoo!