A baby cow was rejected by his herd. But he didn't stay lonely for long.
Baby James, a Scottish Highland cow at a farm in Yancey County, was born in horrible rainy weather on the side of a North Carolina mountain. He was big for a newborn, and his owners thought he might have been deprived of oxygen at birth.
He had health problems from the start, and he wasn't able to nurse. So western North Carolina natives Adam and Emily Hopson — husband and wife owners of Happy Hens & Highlands Farm — brought Baby James inside to care for him around the clock.
"Baby James didn't get his mother's colostrum so his immune system has been very weak,” Emily wrote in a blog post about the calf. "He was unable to suck so he was fed through a tube for quite a while and he battled scours and coccidia."
Inside the house, Baby James made friends with the family dogs who kept him company. He even slept in their beds and cuddled with them on the couch.
"Our dogs adopted James and took over the duties of a mother, loving and cleaning him. Their love and acceptance gave him a will to live," Emily said.
At about a month old, Baby James had learned to take milk from a bottle and seemed to be improving. But more health issues continued to crop up. An infection meant Baby James needed surgery.
During surgery, complications meant Baby James could bleed to death and it was touch-and-go. But the surgery was successful, and with regular treatment, his infection cleared up.
During the 2.5-hour surgery, Emily said Baby James stopped breathing and his heart stopped for more than two minutes.
"Feeling his little body go cold was the most terrifying experience," she said. "Thankfully the vets were able to resuscitate him quickly."
"We attempted to reintroduce James to the herd but by this point he was an outcast. The other cattle thought he was odd and ignored him or bullied him," Emily said. "We knew he would soon outgrow his doggy friends and needed a buddy. We found him some orphan (cow) babies as companions. Since they were also orphans they accepted James (even though he sometimes wears funny costumes). They bonded right away."
And James has outgrown his canine ways, Emily said.
"He no longer acts like a dog (he just acts like a big spoiled cow)," she said. "He is an amazing little guy and his story is inspiring people across the globe."