Little Girl Forms The Sweetest Bond With Baby Cow Who Lost Her Mom
"She doesn't like to kiss just one ear. It always has to be both. She gives her hugs, too."
Lacey Gray and her husband never expected to welcome an orphaned baby cow into their home - but the time they've spent with their new bovine family member, Molly, has so far been life-changing.
And that's especially true for their 2-year-old daughter, Kinley.
"I didn't realize how much of a connection my daughter would have with Molly," Lacey tells The Dodo. "I had no idea it was going to be like this."
The Grays live in Memphis, Tennessee, where Lacey works as a photographer. Recently, a client asked for a photoshoot featuring a calf, so she contacted her husband's uncle, who keeps cows in his pasture nearby.
"I asked if I could borrow one of the calves," Lacey recalls. "He said, 'That's not how it works. You're going to have a really upset momma that comes with that calf.' After that, I decided I just won't do the pictures."
But then tragedy struck - and from it something beautiful began.
The next day, the uncle called Lacey with the news that one of his cows had been injured in a fall, and wasn't expected to survive. She had just given birth to Molly, a calf who would perish, too, without her mother's care.
"He called and asked if we could take care of her. I said yes. I hadn't even told my husband yet," says Lacey. "I thought, oh my gosh, I'm going to be a cow mom. My husband didn't know that he was going to be a cow dad."
And Kinley didn't know that she was going to be a cow sister, but it's a role she's embraced beyond all expectations.
That night, Molly arrived - and Kinley soon set about making the calf feel at home.
"We brought her inside the first night, because we didn't want her to be scared. My little girl sat down with her and said, 'Hey Molly! Hey Molly!'" recalls Lacey. "Molly wandered into Kinley's room, and Kinley said, 'This is my room. These are my toys.'"
Despite the atypical arrangement, it seemed meant to be.
"Kinley became really close to Molly very quickly," Lacey says. "It's like they are sisters."
Molly has since been moved into a cozy place outside. It's there that Lacey has been bottle-feeding her several times a day. Kinley, meanwhile, has been making sure the baby cow's heart stays full as well.
"She likes to feed Molly all on her own, but when Kinley steps out there, Molly loves to lick all over her face. She'll kiss her nose, and both of her ears," says Lacey. "She doesn't like to kiss just one ear. It always has to be both. She gives her hugs, too. It's just the sweetest thing."
With any luck, Molly will grow up big and strong with the help of Kinley and her new family, after which they'll decide if she'll be happier at home with them, or back in the pasture with the uncle's other cows.
Until that day comes, they are just enjoying every moment of having her in their lives.
"I wanted to give Molly the feeling of having a great mom. Even though she's an animal, I wanted her to feel like she could depend on someone. We have a great bond, but I just love the bond she has with Kinley," says Lacey. "It's something I didn't expect, that we would be so connected, and that we would love her so much and that she would love us so much."
In the end, Molly was part of a photoshoot - not as a prop, but as a bonafide member of the family.
"Having Molly has changed our lives. We all love her," Lacey says. "It has been a great thing."