Family Winds Up With One Very Unusual New ‘Dog’ Due To A Confounding Turn Of Events

Some animal sanctuaries are pretty indiscriminate about the breeds of animals they take on. Right next to pens of lazy rescued pigs might be a heard of energetic pygmy goats. Beside a hen house might be the home of an old, retired dog. There are a lot of personalities. Sometimes that’s a good thing. Sometimes that’s a bad thing.

On one Canadian rescue, an Australian Shepherd formed friendships with all the other animals on the farm. But when a frightened newcomer arrived and threatened to shake up the dog’s tight-knit family, the old pooch made a decision that stunned fans across the internet.

Lincoln the Australian Shepherd led a busy life on Ontario, Canada’s Black Goat Farm and Sanctuary. There, he had a lot of super important duties to take care of day-to-day. 

@totes.the.goat / Instagram

One of those self-proclaimed duties was caring for injured and/or orphaned baby animals, such as kittens, goats, and even little chicks. He’s pretty good at it, too, which goes a long way in helping the farm complete its mission.

@totes.the.goat / Instagram

See, Black Goat Farm and Sanctuary provides a forever home for animals in need and wishes to make the public aware of the harmful treatment that livestock experience. Black Goat often saves baby cows from dairy farms, where they would’ve been, um, dead meat.

Black Goat Farm and Sanctuary

And in July of 2018, Black Goat rescued a sweet little calf from a dairy farm, which had plans to ship him off to the wrong places. Since the calf, named Calvin, was prematurely taken from his mother, he never had a parental figure in his life.

@totes.the.goat / Instagram

So when Calvin arrived at Lincoln’s home, you’d think he’d initially be anxious and confused in this strange new environment, considering he’d become dismally acclimated to his depressing concrete pen at the dairy farm.

The Dodo

But upon Calvin’s initial release into the clear, green Ontario fields, he leaped and ran as if he’d just been granted his very own legs. After all, he hadn’t been able to move around much at the dreaded dairy farm. Despite his relief and gratitude regarding his newfound freedom, Calvin was still a bit overwhelmed. 

@totes.the.goat / Instagram

Then, on his first day at Black Goat, Calvin met Lincoln, the protective Australian Shepherd. The two approached one another, considering the other. Would Lincoln accept this skittish young calf into the family?

It was love at first sight! The two bonded right away, and according to Megan and Mike Mostacci, the owners of Black Goat Farm and Sanctuary, Lincoln took a peculiar interest in the calf.

@totes.the.goat / Instagram

Megan and Mike explained that, at first, Lincoln took on the role of a guard dog. Not only was Lincoln there to keep Calvin feeling calm and secure at his new home, but he wouldn’t let anyone near the little cow.

@totes.the.goat / Instagram

Calvin, who became attached to the Australian Shepherd’s hip, eventually realized that Lincoln wasn’t afraid of Megan, Mike, or any of the other animals, leading him to feel more comfortable and extroverted.

Soon enough, Calvin learned to trust in ways he was never could at the dairy farm. He soared at Black Goat, the magnanimous farm being Calvin’s very own safe haven. And due to his tight bond with Lincoln, Calvin started developing dog-like behavioral habits!


Eventually, though, the duo faced trouble: Black Goat Farm and Sanctuary adopted another cow. Calvin hadn’t seen a cow since he was born at the dairy farm, so, now used to essentially being a canine, he was bewildered, to say the least. 

@totes.the.goat / Instagram

Upon an awkward first meeting, Calvin and the new calf, Zoey, “booped” noses, which proved to be the start of a blossoming friendship. This also helped Calvin with his, um, identity crisis, as he started to realize he wasn’t actually a dog. 

@totes.the.goat / Instagram

Zoey and Calvin bonded pretty quickly, possibly due to empathy, as both of them were taken from their mothers at a very young age. But as close as the two cattle became, no one could replace Lincoln, who had his own special relationship with Zoey.

@totes.the.goat / Instagram

After Zoey’s arrival, Lincoln then protected both of his cow little siblings, declaring ownership of his bovine family. But eventually, the little calves grew up to be enormous adult cows. Would they even need Lincoln anymore?

@totes.the.goat / Instagram

As little Calvin grew to the size of a small sedan, Lincoln was still by his side, watching over his little bro, assuring his safety while he grazed in the fields!

@totes.the.goat / Instagram

Megan Mostacci joked that although Lincoln is a fantastic guard dog to his cows, he would be zero help in a situation that would require him to guard the house. Let’s hope the Mostacci’s have a high-tech security system. 

@totes.the.goat / Instagram

It’s heartwarming to see that although Calvin no longer needed a maternal figure by the time he was quadruple the size of Lincoln, he was still more than happy to continue to be nurtured by the pup. 

@totes.the.goat / Instagram

As silly and cute as this relationship is, the fact that Calvin liked to be nourished emotionally goes along with the central messages and morals that Black Goat Farm and Sanctuary wishes to pass along. 

Black Goat wishes for society to see traditional livestock animals as its owners do: “intelligent, caring, individual, and sentient.” The philanthropic farm and sanctuary just oozes with love and positivity. 

@totes.the.goat / Instagram

Luckily, the organization’s getting help spreading its kindness by non-profits halfway across the world. At an African sanctuary, for instance, caretakers helped a lonely rhino make an unexpected friend just like Calvin.

Twitter / South Africa Tourism

In 2016, Nandi the rhinoceros came into the world. She couldn’t have asked for a better life. She tore across the South African savanna with her mother, who protected her as she grew bigger and stronger. But one surprise threw her childhood off the rails.

One day, the two rhinoceroses noticed a vehicle approaching them from the distance. Neither had made contact with humans before, so they didn’t even think to run. That put them in more danger than they ever realized.

The car was full of bloodthirsty poachers, greedily searching for rhino horns to sell on the black market. The unsuspecting targets, Nandi and her mom, turned to face the hunters just as they opened fire.

Nandi fled just in time, though her mother didn’t survive. Just a few months old, the rhino had to survive in the middle of the harsh South African summer. She struggled to find food in the arid fields and could only hope she didn’t run into any predators.

After all, if the young rhinoceros stumbled into a pack of hyenas or lions, she wouldn’t have a prayer in defending herself — even if she returned to full strength. Nandi needed to find shelter or protection, and fast.

Becoming weaker and weaker by the day, it seemed like just a matter of time before another animal — or the elements — picked her off. A couple of weeks later, a strange creature did indeed spot Nandi.


This time, fortunately, the animals watching Nandi weren’t predators. They were humans! And unlike the rhino’s last encounter, these people were not armed with weapons, but with medical supplies and food.

Sacred Lifestyle Magazine

They were a group of wildlife conservationists, led by a young woman named Jamie Traynor. Known as “The Rhinoceros Whisperer,” she immediately recognized that Nandi was malnourished. Jamie couldn’t just leave her there in the wilderness.

YouTube / StoryTrender

She and her team whisked Nandi back to their sanctuary, a place they called The Rhino Orphanage. While Nandi had a healthy appetite, food alone wasn’t restoring her vigor. She clearly required medical intervention.

The Orphanage’s doctor determined that Nandi had, in desperation, eaten sand out on the savanna. After studying the damage to her intestine, he took her into surgery to repair her digestive system.

Following her procedure, the rhinoceros looked frailer than ever. She slowly convalesced, wrapped up in bandages and medical tubing, but Jamie rarely left her side those few weeks.

One Green Planet

As the scars healed, Nandi began drinking more and more milk. That was a very good sign, since she was developing at the proper rate. Jamie could hardly wait to show Nandi the rest of the preserve.

Wild Heart Wildlife Foundation

Before long, the young conservationist had Nandi back up and running. The rhino was bounding about the African terrain with an energy she hadn’t had since her mother was alive.

YouTube / Paul Oxton

Nandi really seemed to bond with Jamie, too. She saw the human as a parental figure, even as Nandi surpassed the size of any human. But before long, the rhino formed an even more unlikely relationship.

Instagram / Jamie Traynor

While taking a drink of water one morning, Nandi noticed an unfamiliar reflection appear next to her. It was a ginger cat, totally unafraid of the hulking animal next to him! Jamie watched the two from a distance, so glad that Nandi finally met Mewie.

Mewie was a tomcat that Jamie and her colleagues had also rescued. The feline showed a curious penchant for befriending animals of all species — even the horse and parrot who also lived at The Rhino Orphanage.

Still, Mewie decided that Nandi would be her best friend of all. The mismatched pair went on walks every day — at least until the cat tuckered out — followed by long naps in the shade.

The Rhino Orphanage / Jaime Traynor

The Rhino Orphanage proved to be the perfect spot for Nandi to blossom into adulthood. By the spring of 2018, when Jamie and her team saw she was healthy and full-grown, they decided it was time for a change.

YouTube / Helping Rhinos

Nandi had to learn to survive in the wild before she lost her ability to adapt. With a tear in her eye, Jamie rolled back a section of the fence and set Nandi and another rhino named Storm back into the Savanna.

YouTube / Helping Rhinos

Though it was a difficult choice, Jamie could still keep tabs on Nandi’s progress thanks to an ankle tracker. Every time she came across the rhino thriving on her own, she knew all her hard work was worthwhile.


Thanks to heroes like Jamie, animals across the planet are coming back from the brink of death. Ellie the elephant, for instance, was just two weeks old, when a rescue team found her alone and afraid at the Bonamanzi Game Reserve in Hluhluwe, South Africa.

Elephants are naturally social creatures, but Ellie had been rejected by his herd. To make matters worse, it looked like the young elephant was also desperately ill. The rescue team quickly took Ellie to Thula Thula, a game reserve in Zululand, to be treated.

Ellie’s future didn’t look good. Veterinarians at the reserve diagnosed him with an infected umbilical hernia, a condition that is almost always fatal. The area around his belly button was essentially an open wound where the infection ran rampant.

Being shunned at any age can have devastating effects on an elephant, but being shunned while still an infant could destroy Ellie mentally and emotionally, even if he was healthy. The rescue team suspected the herd had shunned him because of his illness.

The rescuers treated Ellie’s dangerous medical condition and then tried to reunite him with his family. But try as they might, the herd was done with the little guy. Instead, the team decided to rear him themselves in the Fundimvelo Thula Thula Rhino Orphanage.

Then, the team faced another dilemma: the calf rejected all of his milk and formula! Eventually they came up with a combination of boiled rice, vital minerals, and coconut oil that finally seemed to tempt his palate enough…

The special dish worked! Soon, Ellie was gobbling it down along with the milk he needed for nourishment. His health was finally back on track, but it would take a lot more to help him recover from the trauma of being abandoned.

Ellie seemed perpetually lonely and sad even though he had a team of humans caring for him. “He wasn’t showing much interest in doing anything. He was very lethargic, very disinterested,” said Karen Trendle, a rehabilitation and crisis response expert.

That’s when the rescue team decided to try something wild. On the game reserve lived a German Shepherd named Duma. The retired police dog was known for his love of all creatures, so the team decided to take a chance and see what would happen if Duma was introduced to Ellie…

No one was sure how either animal would react once they were introduced. However, just moments after they met, it was clear that a serious friendship was on the rise. Duma was delighted with his new friend, and Ellie seemed social and happy for the first time!

It was as if meeting the dog brought Ellie back to life! For the first time, the young calf was expressing interest in something, and it was clear from Duma’s reaction that the feeling was totally mutual.

Before Ellie met Duma, the rescue team was worried about the little elephant’s future. They planned to introduce him to another herd or to have him start a herd of his own with other orphans, but they weren’t sure Ellie would survive, let alone thrive. Now, they finally had hope… but would it last?

With every month that passed, Ellie grew happier and more confident thanks to his burgeoning friendship with Duma the dog. It seemed that Ellie was out of the woods and that a happy future could exist for this young elephant. But, sadly, fate had other plans…

Just when it seemed that Ellie was out of the woods, the worst thing imaginable happened: the tiny elephant relapsed, collapsing in the enclosure where he slept. The rescuers responded the only way they could—they treated him with IV fluids and waited.

Tragically, just five months after Ellie seemed to recover, he passed away from a septic infection that caused the failure of all of his organs. The team was absolutely bereft to lose their little friend who came so far…

“It is with deep sadness and so many tears that we bring the devastating news that Ellie passed away gently shortly before midnight on Tuesday evening,” the team announced on their Facebook page. The entire community joined them in their grief.

Ellie’s brief life contained several hardships between his abandonment and his illness, but he also experienced great love and friendship in his time at the reserve. Duma the dog transformed Ellie’s life—and that wasn’t something that would be forgotten!

Tough times were not over for those who worked and lived on the game reserve. Just months after Ellie died, poachers invaded the land and killed a baby rhino while maiming other rhinos for their horns.

The staff at the reserve had to make a very tough decision, and they ultimately decided to close the game reserve. They opened a new one elsewhere, but its location remained a secret so as to better protect the animals who lived there.

While this story does not have the happy ending that you might wish it had, it’s important to remember that Ellie’s remaining time on Earth was pretty special—and it was all thanks to his unlikely friendship with Duma the dog! You can see how they played here…

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