Hand-raised fawn becomes best friend to rescue dogs | National

A fawn hand-raised by his family – and becomes best friends with two dogs

Steve Hopper, Milly the deer and his German shepherds Fox and Bear. (Steve Hopper via SWNS)

By Lauren Beavis via SWNS

A baby deer hand-raised by an animal rescuer after moving in with his family is best friends with his two dogs – even living up to his name.

Milly the fawn was rescued “by mistake” from the wild when she was less than 24 hours old.

A walker believed she had been abandoned in long grass by a walker who had taken her to a vet in Moretonhampstead, Devon.

Because she had been in contact with a human, vets thought the fawn’s mother wouldn’t take her back – so they called local animal rescuer Steve Hopper.

Now, a year later, Steve, 65, has hand-raised young Milly with the help of his two German Shepherds, who have welcomed her as part of their family.

She plays with the two German shepherds, the bear and the fox, like brothers and sisters.

Steve says she’ll come by name when called – often when she knows a chocolate cookie is waiting for her.

Steve, a former police sergeant with Devon and Cornwall Police who has been rescuing animals for 40 years, said: “Milly is quite unique.

“I love the daily contact with her. Firstly, the fact that she survived was an achievement.

“Now part of my joy is seeing the reaction of people who meet her, especially with dogs, she just throws herself into it and that’s what really amuses me.

“It’s something so unexpected but she doesn’t care, she just plays and they play with her.

“She is part of the family – the shepherds adopted her as soon as she arrived at the door and Milly actively plays with them.

“They’re often all together in the pen, she grooms them, they groom her – she headbutts them, they run around like children – they just play.

“She’s still young, so how long she’ll keep this behavior up I don’t know, but she interacts with them and with me.”

Fawn hand-raised by family – and becomes best friend to two dogs

Milly the deer drinks milk. (Steve Hopper via SWNS)

Steve explains how fawns normally follow their mothers to learn and adopt their behaviors.

But because Milly had Steve and his dogs as “parents,” she followed their behavior patterns.

Steve has three other males in his care, and although he has introduced Milly to them several times, he says she shows “no interest” in him and the dogs.

He explains how the way Milly was left in Steve’s care is something he admits “should never have happened”.

He explained: “She was a newborn when she was found: still sticky and dirty, with her umbilical cord still wet and soft – she was a little newborn fawn – and deer generally don’t do very well when they’ve been injured or taken away from their mother.

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“She should have stayed alone because it’s a question of balance.

“Fawns don’t move when they’re very young, so she should never have been picked up, but the vets didn’t have much experience, so they called me.

“I’ve been around animals my whole life, but this was a crash course on the Internet for me because it was the first time I had a baby fawn in my care. »

Milly was given Steve’s goat’s milk four times a day for the first 10 weeks she was in his care – until her taste buds began to mature with age and she developed a taste for all things green.

He explained: “We have Pennywell Farm just up the road and they were great. I called them and said, ‘I have a silly request, but I’m going to need your goat’s milk for a fawn,’ and they said yes.”

According to Steve, different deer need different milks: roe deer and fallow deer can have goat’s milk, but not cow’s milk, although red deer can have cow’s milk and not goat’s milk.

He said: “Deer don’t do it like we do – even from a young age Milly was munching on grass, 99 per cent of her intake came from milk, but she was munching on vegetation when she was little.

“Then, at two months old, you could see the difference: she slowly began to show less interest in milk, and I noticed subtle changes in her behavior as she discovered what she wanted to eat.

“The biggest problem is that if there is something green in front of her, she will stop and eat it!”

Fawn hand-raised by family – becomes best friend to two dogs

Steve Hopper and the animals. (Steve Hopper via SWNS)

She now eats vegetables, goat milk and pellets, carrots and apples, and Bourbon chocolate cookies.

Now that Milly is a little older, she seeks less protection from her family, so her independence has increased as she is less dependent on Steve.

He explained: “She used to stick to me like glue because she was so small, no bigger than a rabbit with big legs, so she had more motivation to stay close to me and the dogs .

“But now she spends the night in the field, and I will send the dogs to fetch her and bring her back for food.

“I can call her name, I can whistle – when I come out first, or if I haven’t seen her, she’ll come like a magnet – but once she knows you’re there, she’ll just ignore you.

“When she knows you have treats, like a bourbon chocolate or dog treats, she will come and every now and then she comes for company, a nudge and she is very affectionate on a good day.”

Due to her unique start in life, Milly will not be released into the wild but will remain with her new family in Devon.

Steve added that dog walkers should keep their dogs on a lead around wild animals and urged people to use common sense when coming into contact with single baby animals or injured animals.

Steve, who once ran his own falconry business, says he gets calls “like clockwork” for animal rescues coming in every day and it’s all funded out of his own pocket.

He added: “My general advice for any animal or bird you find is to leave it alone – but also if you have children, think about it: are you going to let your two-year-old run around the playground alone?

“It’s about balance and knowing what you really have in front of you.”

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