By Hollie Bone
This baaa-king mad 21-year-old turns heads when she takes her ‘puppy’ for walks – as he is actually a SHEEP dubbed the cutest breed in the world.
Liberty May claims pet Valais Blacknose sheep Wilbur acts more like a dog – enjoying strolls on a lead, playing fetch, begging for treats and even snuggles on the sofa.
The young farmer got her fluffy best friend for a 21st birthday present after developing a love for livestock while growing up on her parents’ smallholding in Marwood, Devon.
And Liberty said people are left in disbelief when she takes four-month-old Wilbur out for a stroll – as everyone thinks he seems more like a Labrador than a lamb.
The unusual ‘cuddly toy’ features of the Switzerland-originating breed – including ringlet-like curly fur, a fluffy black face and a friendly temperament – has seen the animals’ popularity as a pet skyrocket in recent months.
Liberty said: “When we walk down through the village everyone comes over straight away.
“They can’t believe he’s a sheep, they can’t even believe he’s real – they all say he looks like a dog and they all want to take photos with him.
“He acts more like a dog than a sheep. He’s constantly smiling, he loves to sit on you like a big Labrador and he likes begging for food and being spoiled.
“We spend every day together, he follows me everywhere and he looks for me when I’m not there. He’s like a little best friend.
“I’m halter training him at the moment so I take him for walks every day and play with him on the farm.
“He loves running around and cuddling up and he lets you do anything to him, whether it’s putting flowers in his hair or tying up his fluffy coat in bunches.”
Fouur-month-old lamb-rador Wilbur is just one of three sheep that Liberty keeps at Springfield Farm, where she helps to run the farm and nursery with her mum, Anna, and dad, Richard.
Growing up, the young farmer admitted she would become attached to the animals and found it hard to let them go.
Liberty said: “From a young age, my mum used to take me and my sisters out lambing with her. I can’t remember a time I didn’t help out on the farm.
“I did get attached very easily to the animals and I would be sad when it was time for them to leave the farm.
“My dad did let me get away with quite a lot really, if there was ever an animal I really wanted to keep he would let me.
“I’ve always been interested in rare breeds and the Valais Blacknose is the cutest breed of sheep in the world – you look at them and you wouldn’t dream of eating them, they’re just so sweet and fluffy.”
In her small flock, Liberty also has two Romney sheep, Penelope and Dumbo, but is hoping new addition, Wilbur, will be able to compete in his first show next month.
She said: “I’ve set up an Instagram account for Wilbur and I’m quite keen to get him in some shows because I want to get more recognition for the breed.
“They’re so cute but they don’t even have their own class in a lot of shows and I don’t think that many people know that they exist.”
The Valais Blacknose Sheep Society said sheep-lovers across the UK looking for the new alternative pet have created a booming trend for keeping the fluffy creatures as domestic animals.
Jenni McAllister, joint President of Valais Blacknose Sheep Society UK said: “There is now a strong presence of Valais Blacknose Sheep here in the UK, from Stornoway to the South of England, and we’ve certainly seen a rapid increase in both society members and breed popularity.
“Due to their inquisitive and friendly nature, Valais make for the perfect pets – and a strong growing market specifically for that purpose has emerged in recent years.”