Rosie, the plains bison that thinks she’s a dog

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

Rosie looks a lot like any other 21-month-old bison. Except she thinks she’s a dog.

That’s because she was raised by one, along with the dog’s owner, Garrett Eben-Ebenau.

Rosie was born on or about April 26 of 2021 on the North Shore Homestead bison ranch north of Slave Lake, where Garrett helps his dad Roland with the operation. Her twin died while being born, he says, and their mother not long after.

“I put her in my dog pen,” Garrett says, “and started feeding her with a bottle.”

Rosie grew up a pet, fed bottles of milk four times a day for the first while, and more or less adopted by his dog Luna.

“Luna pretty much took care of her,” Garrett says. “Licking her, cleaning her.”

They became good pals, with free run of the area. Luna, being a sociable animal, liked to go around visiting. There was lots of that to do over that first summer, because of the guests North Shore Homestead hosts at the cabins it rents out. Rosie was a big hit, says Roland.

But a playful calf is one thing, a thousand-pound yearling is another. Also, by that first autumn, she and Luna had started exploring further from home.

“They ended up in the golf course!” Garrett says.

The time had come when she had to be put in the enclosure with others of her kind. She didn’t like it.

“When I come home from work, she’s always in the corner nearest my cabin,” he says. “She identifies as a dog.”

She’s going to have to get over it. Roland says he expects she’ll be bred in the fall and won’t have much to say about it. That’ll likely mean she’ll be having a calf or calves of her own in the spring of 2024, and her instincts will take over.

But in the meantime, she likes Garrett and Luna’s company more than the buffaloes in the field.

“She follows me around when I’m out in the field,” he says. “She always wants some attention.”

Rosie as she looked last week.
All photos courtesy of Garrett Eben-Ebenau
Best friends.
Luna and Rosie, waiting for a guest’s dog to come out and play.
Young Rosie frolicking with her pal Luna, back in 2021.
Rosie the buffalo crashes a wedding party at North Shore Homestead.

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