Eight years ago, Ohio veterinarian Melanie Butera got a call from a farmer at 3 a.m. asking if she wanted to care for a newborn deer whose mother wasn't nursing her. She immediately said yes.
"We put her on an IV drip because she weighed 4 pounds and got her back up and running after around two weeks," Butera told the Daily Mail. "We then realized that she couldn't go back to the farm and live with the other deer and she couldn't live with our horses because they scared her too much."
That’s how Dillie the deer became a house pet.
The tiny deer soon developed cataracts though, making it difficult for her to see well from a distance, so she took to following around the family dog, an 8-year-old poodle named Lady.
"She would hang around Lady and she very quickly learned to act like a dog," Butera said, noting how she and her husband once came home to find Dillie standing on their bed beside Lady.
After that, the young deer began sleeping in her new parents' bed along with Lady, but she now has her very own bedroom.
To say she's spoiled would be an understatement.
She's often served linguine in bed, and she enjoys the occasional sweet treat. Her favorites are Tootsie Roll pops, ice cream and coffee topped off with ice shavings.
Fully housetrained, Dillie has the run of the house and has learned to turn on lights and take ice from the fridge dispenser.
She comes and goes as she pleases and enjoys exploring the five acres of woods around her home, but she wears a GPS collar so Butera can always find her.
When she's inside, she prefers to lounge on her bed and can often be found curled up with the family cats.
Butera's experiences with Dillie inspired her to write a book about the doe's adventures titled "Dillie the Deer: Love on Hooves."
Butera suffers from Stage 4 endometrial cancer and says she considers the book to be her eulogy.
Meet Dillie and her family in the National Geographic video below.
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