Celebrating the amazing miracle of interspecies adoption, One Big Happy Family: Heartwarming Stories of Animals Caring for One Another (Thomas Dunne Books, 2013) highlights over 50 stories of animals that have reached out to save the lives of babies from other species and raised them as their own. From a bulldog and her baby squirrels to a cat and her ducklings, One Big Happy Family, by Lisa Rogak, contains the cutest and most surprising matriarch mixes. The following excerpt is from the section “The Boxer and His Kid.”
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The Boxer and His Kid
Elizabeth Tozer of the Pennywell Farm wildlife center at Buckfastleigh, in Devon, in the United Kingdom, was concerned in February 2008 when she checked in on the goat pen and saw that one of her female goats had just given birth to three kids. Goats have their hooves full dealing with two, and so in order to ensure that the two healthiest babies survive, the mothers will typically ignore the runt, which in most cases is left to die.
Tozer immediately got busy cleaning and bottle-feeding the baby kid. She was prepared to take over the role of mother herself, but then her male boxer dog named Billy surprised her by assuming parenting duties for the orphaned goat — who Tozer would christen Lilly — when she was just a few hours old. In fact, Tozer says that Billy’s paternal instinct kicked in the instant he spotted Lilly. Right then he nosed Tozer away from Lilly and insisted on helping to clean and groom her. After he was done that first time, he never let the kid out of his sight, and vice versa.
“Lilly follows Billy around, which is really quite amusing to watch, and Billy sleeps with the goat and cleans her mouth after she feeds,” said Tozer, adding that the unique relationship helped to attract a large number of curious visitors to the sanctuary.
Family Fact: When a mother goat — known as a doe — gives birth to twins of different sexes, the male is almost always born first.
To see another cute example of interspecies adoption from One Big Happy Family: Read The Pig and His Lamb.
Reprinted with permission from One Big Happy Family: Heartwarming Stories of Animals Caring for One Another by Lisa Rogak. Copyright © 2013 by Lisa Rogak and reprinted by permission of Thomas Dunne Books. Buy this book from our bookstore: One Big Happy Family.