A real-life Bambi rescued by a man who initially thought she was roadkill has become a family pet and even learned to use — the DOG FLAP.
Strawberry, a Muntjac deer, lives on a diet of peaches, rose petals, leafy greens, dandelions and strawberries planted especially for her to graze on.
Kind-hearted John Slater, 63, came across Strawberry as he drove up a steep hill and saw what he thought was a dead deer, lying in a pool of blood.
He stopped and heard a squeaking noise and realised the fawn was still breathing so loaded her into his van and nursed her back to health.
Strawberry, who is slightly smaller than a Labrador, has learnt to squeeze through a dog flap used by John’s other pets.
The animal-loving granddad has two dogs, Cola, a terrier, and Kilo, a rescue dog, a pony and a retired racing pigeon.
John said: “I don’t intend to eat her – I’ve got one friend who says venison is bitter and one friend who says it’s sweet.
“The animals ignore each other. They just come in and out of the house.”
Tame Strawberry has her little shed in the garden she sleeps, but in the winter is allowed to bed down on a blanket in the kitchen of John’s ex-council house.
Just like his pet dogs, the three-year-old deer comes and goes as she likes and will sit and watch TV with John.
He added: “If I’m sitting at the kitchen table watching telly she will chew my elbow until I start stroking her.
“When she’s out in the garden she’s very timid, and she will follow me round.
“I wouldn’t take her out anywhere else because if she escaped I’d never get her back.”
Widower John shares the house with his son Tom, 24, who was quickly won over by the new addition.
John said: “He knows what a loony I am about animals and he’s fond of her as well.”
His four grandchildren also enjoy seeing Strawberry when they visit the house in Malmesbury, Wilts.
The fawn was only a couple of months old when she was rescued, and John stocked up on books to help educate himself about how to care for her.
He said: “I wish if you hit an animal you had to stop and check it was dead. If I could afford it and I had more money and more land, I’d have a menagerie.
“I don’t know anyone else who’s got a deer as a pet. I’ve got the two dogs but she’s something different.
“I used to have a fox that would come round and I’d feed it but Strawberry wouldn’t be able to outrun it.
“It was luck, sheer luck, that I heard that tiny little squeak. I’m so glad I went back.”