lamb nurse jess

Nurse Jess has been making headlines all over the country: this is because she’s no ordinary nurse, she is actually a beautiful loving springer spaniel! Her place of work and residence is on a wonderful farm close to Exeter, which is connected to the Devon Wildlife Trust. The holding is set on a whopping 180 acres of sprawling countryside, full of picturesque pastures and wonderful trees and woodland plants. Naturally, Jess does not live there alone, and this very special 10 year old, has 270 rare breed sheep for company! The sheep team up in groups (flocks), and freely graze the land. Naturally, they follow each other about, but where does Nurse Jess fit in?

As you can imagine, with so many sheep, and lots of husbandry going on, there are lots of lambs being born. These lovely little creatures remain lambs until aged, so the farm is buzzing with these baby sheep that need to be tended. Sadly, however, some are orphaned from birth, and so need to be cared for and given milk by the farmer. Louise Moorehouse is the farm’s owner, and she has to work tirelessly to keep everything running like clockwork, as she is caring for live animals that have to have a daily routine. This is where Nurse Jess takes centre stage: since she was a young puppy, Jess was rigorously trained by Louise to care for the lambs shortly after they are born; so it was a marvelous time, when they were all tiny to forge a life-long bond between a super dog and the lamb community. Louise taught Jess how to clench a milk bottle in her mouth at a certain angle, so that the lambs could suckle away, and feel loved in the absence of their sheep mother. She did not know whether Jess would be patient enough for the task, but this nurturing long-haired wonder dog seemed to instinctively know what to do, and picked up the technique right away, patiently letting the lambs take as long as they needed! In fact, right from these early days, Jess has always been seen running around the moorlands with a bottle in her mouth!

Like all nurses, Jess follows a daily routine, and has to multi-task. She attends to all the necessary chores: come rain or shine, at meal times she carries around feeding buckets for the sheep, and three times a day she takes bottles filled with milk to tend the waiting orphan lambs who just adore her. They must all wonder why she can bark and they can’t, but they do make lots of warm hearted bahhing sounds to her in response, and give her lots of loving licks and nuzzles! One of the baby lambs she is helping to rear at the moment, is called Shaun: an adorable Dorset Horn lamb, who along with his siblings, was abandoned at birth by their ewe (adult female sheep) mother.

Louise has said that life would be very difficult without her, as she would have to carry out the time consuming bottle feeding procedure to all the orphaned lambs herself, or employ a helper. And of course, there would not be the fun on the farm that this wonder dog with a glowing heart generates far and wide!