It was love at first sight for this Mississippi toddler and a newborn calf that lost its mom just days earlier.
Little Kinley Gray, 2, of Michigan City, could be seen in photos taken by her mom, Lacey Gray of Delta Rose Photography, curling up next to Molly, the weeks-old calf.
"[Molly] doesn't get the same feeling with other kids as she does with Kinley," the girl's mom told InsideEdition.com. "It's a special connection there. I couldn't even stop taking pictures."
Gray said it all started 3 weeks ago, when her clients suggested they do a photoshoot involving a calf.
Gray then contacted an uncle who owns cows: “I was thinking maybe I could go round up one of his cows and bring it over for the day, but he was like, 'That’s not how that works.'"
She accepted his answer and continued on with her day, until the following morning, she received a call from the uncle.
“I could tell in his voice something serious had happened, and he just said, ‘Do you want a baby calf for your own?’” Gray recalled. “He’s like, ‘We had a mama that had a calf. She fell, and will not get back up. She will not recover from it.'"
Without hesitation, Gray said she agreed to take on the orphaned newborn and all the work it would entail.
“I really love animals,” she said. “It was just super exciting — it was almost like having another baby you have to bottle-feed.”
But, it was her daughter Kinley who immediately struck up a special friendship with Molly.
“The first night, I didn’t want her to be scared or alone, so we put her in the laundry room,” Gray said. “Kinley immediately ran to her room, grabbed a story book, and read to her.”
She said their connection only grew from there. Whenever Kinley calls, Molly always comes running. Whenever Kinley lays kisses on the calf’s two ears, Molly will reciprocate by licking the tot’s face up and down. And, when it’s time to say goodbye, Kinley cries as Molly watches the tot leave from outside their door.
And, when they went about creating the photo shoot they originally had in mind, Gray knew Kinley and Molly’s connection was unique.
“When I put Molly with other children, you don’t get the same response,” Gray explained. “[I thought] cows were going to react to everybody the same, but no, I was so wrong. She loves Kinley. She licks Kinley all over. She sucks on her fingers like a pacifier. There are all these little things she doesn’t do with other kids.”
Since Molly officially became a member of their family, she has been living in an empty chicken pen on their property, Gray explained.
The family had to teach the cow to drink formula from a bottle, and because she became an orphan at a young age, they will have to teach the cow to feed as she gets older.
Gray said while they are enjoying the calf’s company for now, they hope to rehome the cow to a nearby pasture in about a year.
"She should interact with her own kind. I don’t want her to be so different she doesn’t know what to do around other cows,” Gray said. “She doesn’t moo a whole lot, and that makes me sad. She should be in her own element and get to do things other cows know how to do."