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Fawn one of the family

Fern the fawn and Dotty the sheepdog are best of friends. PHOTO/MADDIE WELLBROCK

By Gerald Ford

A fawn that thinks it’s a dog has won the hearts of a Tinui family, and its other pets, this summer.

Fern the fawn, a red deer, was found as a newborn by the side of a farm track, and picked up and nurtured by a farm worker on the farm belonging to the Wellbrocks, of Tinui.

After about two weeks the worker began looking for another home for the fawn and asked Emily Wellbrock if she would take the animal on.

Mrs Wellbrock said the fawn “came to me drinking milk out of a bowl, which is really easy” and had quickly fattened up on a lamb milk powder product, after Mrs Wellbrock “did quite a bit of reading” to find the best option to feed.

According to Mrs Wellbrock, Fern has found her place quickly around the house.

“She’s amazing, she just hangs out on the deck like a dog; she loves the dogs.”

For her first few days Fern was kept in a high-sided pen, but now she has the yard to roam in.

The fawn was let out, “once she bonded to me”, Mrs Wellbrock said.

She is “still like a wild animal” in some ways, “we keep finding her hiding in the long grass”, but Fern will come when whistled and is happy to step indoors

“She’s gorgeous, not afraid of everything. We had everyone here for Christmas and she had tinsel around her neck.”

Fern joins in outdoor games with the family and “comes for walks with me”, Mrs Wellbrock said.

“She loves the horses. They’re not so keen on her, however.”

Mrs Wellbrock said she may continue feeding the fawn milk for up to a year, as deer do in the wild, “until at some stage she annihilates my garden”.

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