He is unmistakably a sheep, but only a dog’s life will do for Marley.
Having been taken in by a family who wanted him to keep their lawn nice and short, he fell under the influence of their Labrador and now behaves like a canine.
He takes his meals from a pet bowl and likes nothing more than slipping on to a leash and joining the family for walks.
Now six months old, though, he is becoming too large for domestic life and mother-of-two Ali Vaughan and her family are desperately trying to encourage him to behave like a member of his own species.
Much to his disgust, he is being banished to the barn at the family’s farmhouse home in Rickerby, near Carlisle, Cumbria. Marley – a Valais blacknose – joined them after Mrs Vaughan answered an advert from a farmer seeking a home for an orphaned lamb.
‘We had a massive garden that was really overgrown so I thought a sheep would be ideal for keeping it mowed,’ she said. ‘Little did I know it would be a while before he chomped his first bit of grass.’
Mrs Vaughan, 34, her insurance executive husband Adam, 37, and their children Ella, ten, and Max, four, began feeding their little lamb with a bottle when he arrived at the family home. But within two weeks he fell ill with a joint condition and, needing constant care, he was moved to a dog bed in front of the warm Aga in the kitchen.
Mrs Vaughan, who runs a furniture business, said: ‘Our dog Jess immediately took to him and would lie beside of him at night. It soon became clear Marley was picking up traits from Jess.’ The pair became friends and by the time Marley was well again he had settled into the home life of a dog.
Mrs Vaughan said: ‘When we try to get him outside he puts up a fight. And when we do get him out, you have to be careful with the door or he makes a dash to get back in.’
To encourage him, the Vaughans have now got Marley a sheep companion – a brown Ryeland called Bear.