The Story Of A Guy And His Pet Buffalo

Nov 11, 2011
Originally published on November 11, 2011 5:25 pm

Imagine a guy and his buffalo walk into a bar... no, no, really, this happens on a fairly regular basis in Spruce Grove, a small town in Alberta, Canada, where Jim Sautner and his three-year-old, 1,800-pound buffalo hit the town in Sautner's specially modified red Pontiac Parisienne.

When he's not driving, Bailey Jr., as the bison is called, even kicks back with a beer.

This seemed incredible to us. But before All Things Considered host Guy Raz spoke to Sautner, producer Jacob Margolis made calls to places around town, and he got the same response: Oh, yeah, Jim hangs out with his buffalo all the time.

Sautner told Guy that about three years ago, his other pet bison Bailey Sr. died. About three weeks later, he got a call from a woman who told him a buffalo cow had given birth and died. She asked him if he would take care of the baby buffalo that survived.

"I initially said no, because I was still having my pity party over Bailey Sr.," said Sautner. But then he went over to see him. He was 40 to 50 pounds and cinnamon in color, "the cutest little thing you've ever seen." And Sautner could no refuse him.

Sautner and his wife Linda bottle fed him and fell in love.

"Sometimes, he'd come into the bedroom; sometimes he'd jump in the bed and that didn't work out too well, generally," Sautner said. "As he got bigger, he kept taking too many blankets, so we had to ask him to move outside."

Now, he's a local celebrity and a staple in the local area. The Edmonton Times, which reported on this story, earlier this week, put together this video of the improbable duo:

And if you're wondering, Bailey Jr. has been in a china shop and didn't break a thing. He did go into a bank once and as Sautner says, "the deposit came out the wrong end."

"Needless to say, I don't have an account there anymore," said Sautner.

Much more of Guy's conversation with Sautner on this afternoon's All Things Considered. Tune into your local station to listen. Later tonight, we'll also post audio of the as-aired interview.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.


We end this hour with special thanks to the Edmonton Journal. That's where we first read this little story about a really big pet. Now, imagine a cowboy and a buffalo walk into a bar...


RAZ: No, really. Seriously, a cowboy and a buffalo regularly walk into a bar in Alberta, Canada. The man's name is Jim Sautner. The buffalo is 1,900-pound Bailey, Jr. Sautner and his wife, Linda, bottle-fed Bailey, Jr. as a baby buffalo and now consider him a member of the family. He's allowed in the house. He and Jim often travel together in the family Pontiac convertible. They even frequent the local watering hole.

Well, I spoke to Jim Sautner from his home today and he told me that, when Bailey, Jr. was little, just 40 or 50 pounds, he had the run of the house.

JIM SAUTNER: When we went to bed, he'd come up into the bedroom and basically stay with us and, sometimes, he'd jump on the bed and, of course, that didn't work very well, generally. And as he got bigger, he kept taking too many blankets, so we had to ask him to move outside.

RAZ: And you actually let him in the house, right?

SAUTNER: Well, let's put it this way. How are you going to stop an 1,800-pound buffalo from going where he wants to go? You know - yeah, we open the door and he comes in and he'll lay down in the front room and watch TV and...

RAZ: What does he like to watch?

SAUTNER: Well, the nature things with David Suzuki is about the only thing I let him watch nowadays on TV.

RAZ: Right.

SAUTNER: I didn't want to corrupt his mind.

RAZ: Yeah. That's a wholesome program.

SAUTNER: He's only three years old.

RAZ: Yeah, I hear you. He's house trained? He doesn't, you know, cause any damage in the house?

SAUTNER: It took a bit of work to get over that, but he's relatively calm in the house. He's very curious. He'll go to the clothes closet and smell every individual coat and he knows, you know, from the smell whether it's mine or Linda's or...

RAZ: So it sounds like that whole bull in the china shop thing is - that's basically a myth, right?

SAUTNER: No. He's been into a china shop and he's been into jewelry stores and...

RAZ: Oh, he's actually been inside a china shop and he has not broken anything?

SAUTNER: No, he hasn't.

RAZ: Oh.

SAUTNER: We actually...

RAZ: A buffalo in a china shop.

SAUTNER: Yeah. We actually took him in the bank one day to make a deposit. Unfortunately, the deposit came out the wrong end and we had to leave. Needless to say, I don't have my bank account there anymore.

RAZ: Jim, you have actually adapted your Pontiac Parisienne convertible to accommodate Bailey, Jr., right? He actually rides around with you in the convertible?

SAUTNER: Oh, yeah, he does. We took the backseat out and then we took the passenger seat out, so he gets in there and stands on the passenger's side and we go cruising down the road.

RAZ: You actually have a dog, too, a cocker spaniel. What's the dog's name?

SAUTNER: Charlie Brown.

RAZ: Yeah. What does Charlie Brown think of all of this? I mean, does he get jealous?

SAUTNER: No. When we do parades and stuff, he thinks it's all about him. He doesn't...

RAZ: I got it.

SAUTNER: ...know Bailey's there, so you know, when I got Bailey with me, I'll tell Charlie - Charlie, give Bailey a kiss. And he'll run over and jump up and give him a kiss on the nose.

RAZ: Aw. Jim, I mentioned earlier that you and Bailey, Jr. go to - you to the bar. You actually go drinking. He's your drinking buddy.

SAUTNER: Yes, he is. Sometimes, I take him in the car and go into the local bar here and, some days, he'll drink a beer, but some days, he has a root beer instead, like especially when he's driving. I got him as a designated driver, so you know, I got to keep him sober to drive that car.

RAZ: Well, Jim Sautner, thank you so much.

SAUTNER: Well, it's been a pleasure talking to you.

RAZ: That's Jim Sautner talking about his pet buffalo, Bailey, Jr. They hang out a lot together in Alberta, Canada. Now, if your first response, like ours, was disbelief, check out the photos we have at our website, NPR.org. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.