A family rescued a lamb from slaughter after finding it with its dead mum – and taught the animal to play football.
In a heartbreaking scene straight out of a Disney film, mother and daughter, Sheri and Erin-Mai Jeffries, discovered the baby animal next the dead ewe in a field next to their house.
They took in Rosie the lamb and raised her themselves after the farmer whose land it was said he wouldn’t have time to bottle feed her.
Rearing her in their own home, Rosie quickly settled in and became part of the family, even becoming best friends with one of their cats, Magic.
At first Rosie even slept in the house in a spare room before Sheri built a pen for her in the garden, reports Bedfordshire Live.
Both Sheri and Erin-Mai built a special bond with Rosie, who learnt and responded to her own name like a dog would.
“She absolutely loved to play,” Sheri said. “My daughter spent hours on end playing with her in the garden.
“She was so funny, you’d kick the ball to her and she would head it back to you. She also loved playing catch.”
When she was grown up they returned her to the farmer but he sold her on, leaving them searching the countryside to save her from the slaughterhouse.
They had asked him for first refusal if he ever planned on selling the animal – but one day in December 2019 they visited the farm to find Rosie had vanished.
“We contacted the farmer who told us he’d sold her at the market and she was going to be slaughtered. We were devastated,” Sheri explained.
“I asked how we can get her back and he told us she’s just a sheep, we don’t need her back.”
Armed with a list of tag numbers and not knowing which was Rosie, Sheri set about tracking her down. She shared appeals high and wide on Facebook and eventually narrowed it down to two farms.
After seeing one of her pleas, a farmer contacted her from Leicestershire telling her “I think I’ve got your Rosie”.
Sheri rushed to Leicestershire to see if it was definitely Rosie. As she arrived the farmer herded the sheep into a pen so she could get a look at them.
“There were about 60 of them in a field running off into the pen, but as soon as I shouted Rosie’s name she stopped and stared at me, before one of the farmers shooed her into the pen. She knew who I was straight away,” Sheri said.
“It was such a magical moment, mixed with relief as we knew if she wasn’t at this farm she might be at another and already have been slaughtered.”
The farm was what is known as a “finishing farm”, where sheep are fattened up before going to the slaughterhouse, so Sheri saved her just in time.
She bought Rosie off the farmer and returned her back home where she made a deal with a neighbouring farmer to keep her in his field.
They still visit Rosie every day, and Rosie even has her own son now, Cole, who is even more loving than she is.