By Charles Wade-Palmer
A Highland Cow rejected by the rest of the herd has grown up thinking it is a dog – after its owners raised it inside the family home.
Cattle owners Adam, 33, and Emily Hopson, 32, have raised adorable calf James inside their home with their dogs who he cannot resist licking.
And their adorable photos of the hairy bovine living alongside his canine pals have made him a social media sensation.
Emily said: “He is the sweetest creature. He loves to lick us and the dogs. And to just lay beside us and be scratched and petted.
“He gets a little rambunctious around feeding time and will buck you wanting food or nibble your hands, ears, or elbow trying to get milk.
“He tried to play with the dogs but he is getting so large that his headbutting which was cute as a baby but was getting to rough for them and they won’t play with him as much as they used to.”
Four-month-old James, has won over thousands of followers on Adam and Emily’s business Instagram, Happy Hens and Highlands Farm dressing up as an Ewok and superhero.
The married couple live on a farm near Asheville, North Caroline’s which has been in Emily’s family since the 18th century.
Emily said: “He was such a large baby we think he was brain damaged at birth from being oxygen deprived which is called dummy calf syndrome.
“His mother’s nipples were huge and long and he didn’t know how to nurse them.
“After hours of observing and trying to help him nurse to no avail, we finally brought him inside.
“Around a month old we thought he was finally out of the woods since he learned to take a bottle.
“He appeared to be doing ok and was active and didn’t have any signs of a life threatening infection.
“He is so fuzzy we couldn’t tell his navel was abnormal.
“When Dr. Jornigan was castrating him and had to shave his his belly, he discovered that his navel hadn’t closed off and there was infection.
“When Dr. Jornigan recommended putting him to sleep it was because he thought he was going to suffer and die slowly.
“Since Baby James had fought through so much already we wanted to try anything we could to save him.”
Out of fear he would be bullied by the rest of the cattle without some friendly faces Adam and Emily brought in a few orphaned calves to keep him company.
“He lived in the house for his first two weeks of life.
“Once he got too big we put him in a fenced in area in our backyard where we keep chickens.
“Most of the other babies who had been raised by their mother wanted nothing to do with James because they knew he wasn’t normal.
“They would either bully him or ignore him. So we bought two more orphan babies to keep him company.
“Since they are orphans they are the perfect buddies for James.
“We have moved them into a larger pasture with other cows but they all three hangout in their own little group and now the other calves think they are the cool crowd and want to join and hangout with them.”
Little James was found in the woods on Emily and James’ land in May three years after they introduced Highland cattle to the farm when Adam was stuck looking for work.
Emily said: “In 2014 Adam had lost his job. We were contemplating & praying about what he should do next.
“We were trying to eat only organic, non gmo and or humanely raised food but with Adam out of work we were having a hard time buying that type of food, so we decided to become more self sufficient.
“Adam went from being scared of cows because he had never been around them to being a full time farmer.
“We weren’t sure what we were even going to do with that many cows. We originally thought we might start raising grass fed beef.
“But we started working with them and earning their trust. Slowly they all started to trust us and became pets.
“We knew we couldn’t kill them but didn’t know what we were going to do with that many animals.
“During that time we started posting on social media photos of us with the cows. We just did it for fun with no intention of it going anywhere.
“One of our photos ended up going viral and we got a lot of attention because of it.
“We started getting contacted by people wanting to buy our animals for pets basically as pet lawnmowers.”