Celeste the lamb is living the high life
A lamb wearing a nappy is an unusual sight for most people, but for Rachael Down it was a necessity while she was hand-raising a lamb that had the run of her house and workplace.
Rachael found Celeste the lamb when she was only hours old.
She was abandoned and alone, bleeding from the mouth and nose, with no other sheep in sight.
A wildlife carer, Rachael did what came naturally and scooped up the lamb and took it home with her.
“She wouldn’t have lasted long because the crows and the foxes get them,” she said.
Since that day about eight weeks ago, Rachael has been raising Celeste, including hand-feeding her.
When Rachael found the lamb, Celeste was only about four hours old and weighed about 2kg.
“She was tiny,” Rachael said.
When she first got her, Rachael was feeding Celeste five bottles a day, but now she is down to two.
Celeste was not the only animal in Rachel’s care when the News caught up with her — she also had a kitten and two kangaroo joeys.
Hand-feeding all of the rescue animals, plus looking after her own dogs, cats, lizards, bearded dragons and fish, keeps Rachael busy.
“They take two and a half hours of feeding every night and every morning,” she said.
“I don’t get much sleep. Only about five hours a night.”
It also means she is a little like Dr Dolittle when she arrives at work each day in Shepparton, driving from Numurkah with whatever rescue animals she has in her care tucked away safely in crates.
“Sometimes she (Celeste) serenades me on the way home because she is due for a bottle,” Rachael said.
Luckily for Rachael, she works at PETstock in Shepparton and all the staff love animals.
“They’re amazing. I can bring all my animals in,” Rachael said of her employer.
“I do my work but feed them (the animals) on breaks.
“I couldn’t do what I do here if they weren’t supportive of what I do.”
During her time running around the floors of PETstock, Celeste has been a hit with staff and customers alike.
And the little lamb appears to have enjoyed her time at PETstock.
She has sat on other staff member’s laps while they had their breaks, slept in towers of pet bedding, and nibbled on everything she could find.
Each night she would ride on the pellets of stock that were on display out the front of the shop as they were brought inside at the end of trading.
Celeste has also delighted customers with her array of outfits, including coats and hats.
“She’s got lots of little outfits,” Rachael said.
“They don’t mind being dressed up.”
Some children visiting the shop also had the chance to give Celeste a bottle.
“It shows kids that all animals are worth their while,” Rachael said.
At night, Celeste settles down inside Rachael’s house.
In an effort to keep everything clean, Celeste and the joeys wear nappies and have a bath once a week.
Rachael said the best thing about having Celeste was the love that she got back from the little creature.
“She’s affectionate and loving,” she said.
“She gives you headbutts and curls up behind your legs on the couch.
“She just wants to be with you.”
However, Rachael knows that soon she must part with Celeste, and has organised for her to live on a hobby farm with one of her friends, who also has five sheep and two donkeys.
One of those sheep was another that Rachael raised as a lamb.
Last week Rachael stopped taking Celeste to work with her; instead, the lamb has spent her days with Rachael’s sister.
And soon, she will head to the farm to live out her hopefully long and happy life.
While she will miss her, Rachael said it had to be done.
“You cannot keep her in town,” she said.