POWELL, Wyo. — The orphan lamb had taken a turn for the worse — until a mama dog came to its rescue.
Oakley, a miniature Australian shepherd, had noticed the little lamb was not doing very well.
“She just wouldn’t suck the bottle,” said Keela Hopkin, who raises lambs and other animals at her family’s farm outside of Cowley.
Keela was tube feeding the lamb, syringe feeding it, “the whole nine yards,” she said.
She told her daughters, Cadence and Macie, that “if this one doesn’t turn around, it’s not going to make it.”
But then Oakley the mama dog came along.
“Oakley decided to take matters into her own hands and began hiking her leg on the lamb (like a male dog) until the lamb realized there was a milk bar under there,” Keela said. “The lamb perked up very quickly, and Oakley went on to nurse the lamb for several more weeks.”
Oakley, who is about 4 years old, went out of her way to take care of the orphan lamb.
“She did it all on her own,” Macie said.
“She knew it was sick,” Keela added. “She knew it was having trouble, and she had the right stuff. Once it started nursing good and got some strength back, it did finally start taking a bottle.”
Oakley knew which lamb was hers. The lamb had dark splotches and looked like a Holstein, so the girls started calling it Calf.
“She saved the lamb and it is healthy today,” Keela said.
Soon after nursing the lamb, Oakley started taking care of a goat kid after its mom died.
“She kept the lamb and kid clean and happy all spring,” Keela said. “I took several pictures because I knew no one would believe me.”
In addition to taking in orphans, Oakley has raised four litters of puppies.
The miniature Aussie measures 14 inches tall at the shoulder. Before she had her last litter of seven puppies, she measured 18 inches across at the vet.
“It kind of looked like she swallowed two basketballs,” Cadence said.
“She’s just built for it — she had seven puppies in two hours,” Keela said.
Sometimes, Oakley’s motherly instincts get the best of her, and she tries to take babies that are being cared for by their own mothers.
“Before she had her puppies this year, we had a litter of kittens and she tried stealing them,” Keela said. “We had to hide them from her. She just likes babies.”
Oakley also has a lot of herding instincts. Cadence and Macie raise rabbits for 4-H, and when the rabbits get out, Oakley works to put them back in the right cages.
“It’s very much, ‘This is where it belongs, and you can’t deviate from the plan,'” Keela said.
She likes to keep track of the sheep and calls the shots with the other dogs at the family’s home.
But when she has her own puppies, they have her full attention.
“She’s just a good mama,” Keela said. “She keeps track of the kids.”
Information from: Powell (Wyo.) Tribune, http://www.powelltribune.com