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Thursday, January 21, 2021

Lost lamb finds home with Great Falls grandparents

GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) — Arnie and Ginger Skoog are in their 80s, but they’ve suddenly found themselves caring for a white-haired, pink-nosed newborn, and, boy, is she a handful.

“She’s just naughty,” Ginger says. “If you say, ‘Don’t do that,’ she’ll grab a piece of it and run.”

Her name is Georgette, and she’s a 3- or 4-week-old lamb with a penchant for chewing on cords.

The farm animal has made herself right at home in the Skoogs’ West Side Great Falls residence along the Sun River, prancing around the living room like a family dog, jumping on the furniture and into Arnie’s lap.

Montana’s nasty winter is to blame — or thank — for bringing the lost sheep and the elderly shepherds together.

“She was starving when he brought her in, but she was soon on her feet and eating everything in the house,” says Ginger, 84.

A few weeks ago, Jay Skoog, Ginger and Arnie’s son, showed up on their doorstep with a 4-day-old lamb he discovered in tough shape following another winter storm.

Jay has a farm near Fort Shaw, but he also has a full-time job, and he needed to go work.

The Skoogs have five grown children, 16 grandchildren and 20-some great grandchildren.

Now they have one more lamb with a frozen tail and ears to care for.

A bond has formed.

“If I walk out of the room — ‘baa, baa,'” Arnie says, mimicking Georgette’s reaction when he tries to get some space.

Georgette has a particular fondness for 89-year-old Arnie.

When he gets up to show a visitor the family photos on the wall, jealous Georgette starts bleating and tries to nudge her way to his side. She’s wearing a girls’ pull-up diaper with pink trim like the color that rims her eyes. It’s been modified to accommodate her tail stub.

When he sits in his living room chair in front of the television set, Georgette, all legs, leaps onto his lap. Soon, with Arnie scratching her neck, her eyelids begin to droop.

“The lamb thinks my dad is its mother, I swear,” says Janet Dutcher, the Skoog’s daughter, who lives in Delaware but regularly visits via video chat with her parents.

Every time they talk these days, Dutcher says, Georgette seems to be sitting in Arnie’s lap.

“My dad is the chosen one,” Dutcher says. “It will hop up in his lap like it’s a dog and sit and watch TV with him and tuck his head in under his arm.”

Ginger figures Georgette sees Arnie as her mother because he was the first one to feed her.

The Skoogs feed powdered lamb’s milk to the lamb four times a day.

They’ve found it difficult to leave the house because Georgette, like a puppy with separation anxiety, starts chewing on things including electrical cords. They don’t want to confine her during the day “because she needs to be free.”

Her tail is short, the result of freezing.

“It dropped off a few days ago,” Ginger says.

Her ears, also frozen, are just stubs. The tips feel like leather.

Georgette was named after Curious George, the cartoon monkey featured in children’s books and cartoons.

“We’ve raised lambs before but we’ve never had one with the personality like Georgette,” Ginger said.

The mischievous sheep chewed on a newspaper as the Skoogs talked earlier this month.

Once, Georgette got a hold of a roll of toilet paper in the bathroom and dragged it throughout the house.

“Not really,” Arnie says when asked if he will be sorry to see Georgette go. “There’s a time for everything. It’s time.”

When it warms up, Georgette will be heading back to the farm, where she will live in a barn.

For now, though, Georgette will continue to sleep in a dog kennel at the home of her new family in Great Falls. On a wool rug.


Information from: Great Falls Tribune, http://www.greatfallstribune.com

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