“Nanny Dog” Cares for Baby Animals

Blakely plays with a baby ocelot at the Cincinnati Zoo. (Photo: Cassandre Crawford)

Blakely plays with a baby ocelot at the Cincinnati Zoo. (Photo: Cassandre Crawford)

There's a new kind of nanny in town, and he walks on four legs.

An Australian Shepherd named Blakely is a special part of the Cincinnati Zoo's nursery. When baby animals at the zoo need extra attention or can't be properly cared for by their mother, they come to the nursery to grow, play, and socialize. Blakely is a key part of the process.

Blakely was adopted from an animal shelter when he was about 8 months old, and now spends his days cuddling, playing with, and helping socialize baby animals of all species.

Although it may just seem like fun and games, Blakely's presence in the nursery is a crucial part of the nursery's work. His interactions with the infant animals set them up to be more successful as adults.

One example is the baby ocelot named Santos (pictured above) that Blakely bonded with closely. Santos' mother didn't produce enough milk to be able to feed him, so he was brought to the nursery. Blakely's presence helps animals like Santos learn crucial behaviors, social skills, and even how to hunt for food. Partially thanks to Blakely's work, Santos is now going to be part of the zoo's Cat Ambassador program, where he'll help raise animal awareness.

Blakely isn't all about work though--he gets plenty of walks on the zoo grounds, as well as limitless love and attention from both two-legged and four-legged friends at the zoo.

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  1. Margie

    January 29th, 2014 at 12:24 pm

    Victoria, I have a 15 year-old cavalier king charles spaniel who spent her first 5.5 yrs in a horrendous puppy mill situation. As I also fostered other mill dogs after getting her, Grace was just like Blakely--she could mother anything. Large, small, old, young, she showed them the ropes around the yard and the house, played with them, and comforted them. She's older now and her only companion is my 4 yr old mostly blind/mostly deaf cavalier. Grace lets Madison walk touching her, jump on her, and snuggle. Grace now has congestive heart failure, seizures, and tumors, and while I know she does not feel well, her desire to be kind to others is still unfailing Well, that is except for the cat who taunts the blind one--Grace will not allow that cat one ounce of forgiveness! I know her days are numbered, but each day with her is a lesson in kindness and forgiveness for what happened to her early in her life. Thank you for letting me post this.

  2. Donna

    January 29th, 2014 at 1:39 pm

    This is wonderful to see.

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