Calf saved from slaughterhouse, family dog become bonded pair during pandemic

The pandemic has brought huge challenges to one Santa Clarita Family. The newest member of this herd entered their lives in a very unusual way and has since become a growing part of their stay-at-home life.

A 350-pound calf is being raised by Ellie Laks and Jay Weiner inside their home. He was just 50 pounds and a week old when he was saved from a slaughterhouse, where sadly his mother met her fate.  

His new "parents" run the rescue non-profit "The Gentle Barn."

Internet fans and donors named the calf "John Lewis Thunderheart" after the late Civil Rights icon — because he too is a fighter.

"He had severe pneumonia. He had loud, raspy breathing. He had a deep cough. He had an extremely high temperature," Laks said.

They quickly realized John Lewis wasn’t going to survive alone in their barn, John Lewis was moved into their air-conditioned living room and placed into an oxygen tent.  His "older brother" Sky, an Australian Shepard, laid by his side while he recovered.

"Lewis was so sick, having Sky’s help -- cuddling with him while he slept, cleaning his mouth, just nurturing him I think it's one of the main factors that saved Lewis's life," Laks said.

They share dog beds, toys, and snacks.

"They run all over the yard and tussle. Sky is very mouthy like a puppy and Lewis wonky like a cow, but somehow they make it work and understand each other," Laks said.

(FOX 11)

By the time Lewis is 5-year-old, he will weigh around three thousand pounds. Laks says the family is in denial, knowing he will likely have to live outside the home soon.

"I've never been a cow mom before. I've never had a cow live in the house so this is an adventure," said Laks. "We'll see we might end up with a cow in the house forever I don't know what’s going to happen!"

You can follow John Lewis Thunderheart's journey with his new family at or on the non-profits social media.

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