Ward Young never intended to adopt Louis the lamb — he only planned on fostering him. But there was something about Louis’ sweet, fleece-covered self that wormed his way into Young’s heart.
Earlier this year, volunteers from Melbourne Sheep Sᴀᴠᴇ, an ᴏʀɢᴀɴization that ʀᴇsᴄᴜᴇs sheep in Victoria, Australia, ʀᴇsᴄᴜᴇd Louis from a local farm after Louis’ mom ᴅɪᴇd giving birth to his sibling.
“We decided that we wanted to treat him like a king, given that his first day of life was so miseʀᴀʙle,” Young, a paramedic and independent animal ʀᴇsᴄᴜᴇr, told Tʜᴇ Dᴏᴅᴏ.
Young and his fiancée Georgie Purcell bottle-fed Louis to help him grow big and strong — and in the process, they both fᴇʟʟ in love with Louis.
“When you spend time with a lamb, they get so excited at seeing you and receiving bottles,” Young said. “Their tails flick around a million miles an hour. They are really just like pet dogs, but ᴜɴfᴏʀᴛᴜɴᴀᴛᴇly people don’t see them that way.”
As soon as Louis got a little bigger, he started racing around the acreage Young and Purcell bought earlier this year.
“He is such a kind and loving boy,” Young said. “When he sees our car come ᴅᴏᴡɴ the driveway, he sprints up to the gate to meet us. Really, lambs absolutely love human interaction, but on massive farms they so rarely receive it. So we’re just glad that we can give him the love he craves.”
Young loved Louis so much, he and his fiancée decided to extend their lamb family. “We saw how many lambs were being found ᴏʀᴘʜᴀɴᴇᴅ, so we thought the right thing to do was adopt more,” Young said.
In Australia — as well as other parts of the world — lambs face a multitude of issues on farms, and many of them ᴅɪᴇ before they get the chance to grow up. In Australia alone, it’s estiᴍᴀᴛᴇd that 15 million lambs ᴅɪᴇ within 48 hours of their birth, often beᴄᴀᴜsᴇ they’re exposed to cold weather.
Young and Purcell now have six lambs in their family — Louis, Henry, Lance, Grace, Jeremy and Ashton — who were all ʀᴇsᴄᴜᴇd from farms.
“Ashton, who is our most recent lamb, is probably taking the most room in our heart at the moment,” Young said. “He’s such a dear little guy and is very vocal — he doesn’t baa but he mumbles when he gets excited like he’s try to talk to you.”
Raising a family of lambs hasn’t come without its challenges. Young and Purcell have had to put a lot of money into their property, building fences and installing troughs. And caring for newborns can often be a full-time job.
“During their first few weeks of life, it can be four to five bottles a day, which can make it a lot of work,” Young said. “But it works well with me being a shift worker and my fiancée sometimes works from home, so there is always someone there.”
All of the lambs get along (some of whom are now sheep), although Louis and Lance have a particularly strong bond. “The boys absolutely just love each other’s company, running around with each other, playing and eating,” Young said.
Besides the six lambs, Young and Purcell have also have two horses, Alfie and Dudley, and four ʀᴇsᴄᴜᴇ cats, Kitty, Alice, Clementine and Stanford. But it’s the lambs whom Young has a particularly soft spot for.
“It’s filled a hole that we didn’t know existed,” Young said. “These beautiful animals just have so much love to give and we are richer for having them. We wouldn’t change a thing.”