By Kerry Elsworth and Hollie Bone
A sheep who thinks she’s a DOG decided to leave her flock to live with a pack of hounds and now ‘baa-rks’ when she sees other pups on her walks – and plays with her canine pals every day.
Dog walker Siobhan Chierrel O’Kelly, 28, bought 11-month-old sheep Chopsy when she was just a 14-day-old lamb in June last year to teach her customers’ dogs not to chase the farm animals near her home in Bampton, Devon.
After just a few weeks living on the farm with her pack of dogs, Siobhan tried to return Chopsy to the fields to be with her real family, but the lamb came running back to her canine chums to continue living as one of them.
Now the woolly wannabe is so excited about being one of the dogs that she ‘baas’ when she sees them and even goes for walks on leads with the pack, playing with them in Siobhan’s field and even running over when her name is called.
Siobhan said: “Chopsy comes on dogs walks with us, plays with the dogs in the field, running and tumbling around, and even comes running back when I shout her name.
“She even knows what days the dogs are here and she will shout across the field, baa-ing her head off at me asking to bring her in.
“She goes crazy when she sees another dog walking past on the footpath by the field too, it’s almost like she’s barking the way that dogs do at other dogs.
“I don’t think the dog walkers know what to make of it, especially when she’s following their dog.
“Sometimes when people pass us by they don’t even realise she’s a sheep because she’s running around with all the dogs, but when people do notice they double take and say ‘oh my god is that a sheep?’”
Siobhan lives down the road from the farm where she keeps two miniature Shetland ponies and a rescue Cob horse, as well as Chopsy and her pals.
After deciding that she wanted to actively do something to reduce the number of dog attacks on sheep, the animal lover bought two sheep, Minty and Chopsy, and started training them not to run from dogs so mischievous mutts would be less inclined to chase and bite them.
But when Minty died of bloat, a fatal build up of gas in the stomach, just a few weeks later, Siobhan tried to take Chopsy back to be with her family – but the excited lamb was instead scared of the sheep around her and came running back to be with her doggy friends.
Now, the dog walker has even taught her sheep to perform tricks, including jumping, heeling on a lead, bowing and smiling like a well-trained pooch.
Hilarious photos and video footage show Chopsy interacting with her canine friends and posing in their midst as one of the pack.
Siobhan, who runs business Wild Walks, said: “One of the things that was really upsetting me was the amount of dog attacks on sheep so I wanted to get a sheep so the dogs could get used to them.
“I trained her not to run from the dogs so they don’t have the excitement of the chase.
“When Minty died I tried to put Chopsy back with her family but because I had already raised her with my dogs she was scared of the sheep and came running back to a pack of dogs.
“We don’t give sheep enough credit – they’re actually very clever animals.
“I have taught Chopsy to jump, and how to heel on a dog would, she walks on a lead and I’m in the process of teaching her how to smile.
“Even since she was a lamb she has had a playful nature, lambs are very playful but they usually lose it with time because they’re not socialised to play.
“Chopsy has kept her puppy-like attitude because she’s always been around dogs.”
Siobhan said dog owners should not worry if they accidentally walk into a field of sheep, but should always keep their dogs on leads around the animals as their skin is very delicate and can easily tear.
She added: “My dogs are now so calm around sheep we’ve actually had a flock of sheep follow us out of curiosity, because they don’t know why the dogs aren’t chasing them.
“I absolutely love animals and for me it’s all about the bond that they have with other animals.”