A sheep is having to have lessons on how to act like his own kind – because he thinks he’s a DOG.
Marley, a Valais Blacknose Valley sheep, was taken in by a family when he was orphaned.
He became best mates with their dog Jess and now eats from bowls, goes out for family walks and spends his time lying by the Aga.
Six-month-old Marley is now so big he has to move outside so the family have got another sheep to help teach him how to live like one.
Marley’s owner Ali Vaughan, 34, said the family decided to adopt him after spotting an ad on Facebook from a local farmer appealing for a 5* home for an orphaned sheep.
“We absolutely love animals and have always had ducks and dogs,” said the self-employed upcycler.
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“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.
“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.”
Within two weeks of Marley arriving at the family’s home in the village of Rickerby, Carlisle, Cumbria, he contracted an illness called joint-ill, a common cause of lameness in young lambs where one or more joints can be infected and swollen.
He needed constant care and was so stiff it would take him 15 minutes to get up on his feet so Ali bought Marley his own dog bed and put it in front of the warm Aga in the kitchen.
Ali said: “Our dog, Jess, immediately took to her and would lie at the side of her at night. It soon became clear that Marley was picking up traits from Jess.”
As the family nursed Marley back to full health he would accompany them on their dog walks up the lane and would even look forward to their trips out but other than family walks, appeared to have developed a dislike for 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 will make a mad dash to get back in.”
With Marley now bigger than labrador Jess, the family are keen to move him outside, so they’ve got another sheep – a brown Ryeland called Bear – in the hope he will show Marley how to live like a sheep.
Ali said: “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 do have a barn where he should be staying where it is nice and cosy.”