'At first she acted like a dog:' Steele County family treats injured fawn

A family living outside Hope, North Dakota, have been enjoying a daily summer visitor. After finding an injured fawn on their farm, the family nursed it back to health, then let it become independent.

Local fawn Rasha gets some help with a bottle.
Contributed / Jaden Bender Family
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HOPE, N.D. — Out on the farm, you sure don't expect a fawn to come knocking. But at the Bender family farm, Rasha stands at the door wanting to come in.

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Contributed Jaden Bender family

"She's very crazy and she's gotten a lot more to be like a deer. She, really at the start, acted like a dog," said 11-year-old Ruby Bender.

It all started a few weeks ago. The Bender family heard a horrific scream.

"Down on the other side of the yard, we heard her (the fawn) just howling and we both ran back there, (...) she had scrapes on her neck all the way down. Either she was attacked by a coyote or got into a barbed wire fence, or something like that. On her inner thigh, she had a bunch of gouges taken out," said farm owner Jaden Bender.

The Benders rescued the fawn, fed it, bandaged its injuries and nursed it back to health. That went on for a few days. The deer was free to roam around the farmyard and leave if she wanted to, but she and the other animals became fast friends.


"They (the dogs and fawn) are like a family. We have pictures of them actually standing at the screen door, all three of them, trying to get into the house," Jaden Bender said.

Earl Mallinger has been farming the land up in northern Minnesota his entire life, with thousands of acres and a million farming memories.

Now that Rasha has put on a few pounds and is healed, she leaves the farm for several hours. But like any spoiled member of the family, she returns home to eat.

"We didn't know what was the right thing to do, but we took it in, cleaned it up. I'm glad we did, definitely no regrets," Jaden Bender said.

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Rasha takes a nap.
Contributed / Jaden Bender family

The Bender family can't get enough of her, and Ruby has quite the summer story to tell all her friends at Hope Elementary in Page this fall.

"He is just really cute and fun," she said.

Kevin Wallevand has been a Reporter at WDAY-TV since 1983. He is a native of Vining, Minnesota in Otter Tail County. His series and documentary work have brought him to Africa, Vietnam, Haiti, Kosovo, South America, Mongolia, Juarez,Mexico and the Middle East. He is an multiple Emmy and national Edward R. Murrow award recipient.

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