updated 08/10/2012 AT 5:00 PM ET
•originally published 08/13/2012 AT 9:00 AM ET
Step aside, Mary! Looks like a friendly Dalmatian in Australia has got herself a little lamb.
After being orphaned, a cross-bred lamb born with white fur and black spots has become the surrogate child for a Dalmatian looking to play mother.
“She was in season at the moment, and sort of feeling that mothering instinct at the time when this lamb was there,” owner John Bolton told the Associated Press. “It seemed to be quite a natural thing for her to pick this up and have something to mother.”
Since the lamb arrived on Bolton’s farm in South Australia’s Barossa Valley, Bolton’s Dalmatian has taken to following it around and looking after the little one, often licking it clean and keeping it company. And the lamb seems to be loving the attention.
“It’s actually a benefit to the lamb,” he said.
Now that the lamb seems to have settled into life with dog, Bolton is moving on to the animal’s next challenge.
“We’re not quite sure what we should call it, whether to call it a ‘sheep-mation’ or a ‘Dal-Dorper,’” he said.
[RELATED_TEXT “Can’t get enough pet news? See more on PEOPLE Pets