We all want and need friends to share the ups and downs of our lives. Some may be family, some may be people we encounter along the way and some may even be animals. We treasure good friends and mourn their loss. Animals are the same way. They develop close friendships with their own species and with others. And they mourn when their friends go away too.
My family always had dogs and cats when I was a kid and they got along just fine. But it wasn’t until I was in high school that I saw a really close relationship between the different species. My mom had a little “dust mop” dog named Sandy and a big gray cat called Tom. (So, she wasn’t very inventive with names.J) The two of them got along great and loved to play. Tom would lie in the sun snoozing and suddenly Sandy would race across the lawn and run right over him. Of course, Tom jumped up and the melee began. They’d chase each other all over the yard, wrestle for a while, then run again until they were both exhausted. Then they stretched out, nose to nose and recouped. The next time it might be Tom who’d sneak up and pounce on a dozing Sandy. Watch out anyone who got in the way.
One day Tom didn’t come home after his night out and Sandy, who never left the yard, went looking for him. He found his friend in one of the new houses down the street where he’d been accidentally locked in overnight. Unfortunately, the next time Tom went missing we never found out what happened to him. Sandy mourned and moped around for weeks until Mom brought home a new cat to keep him company. But it wasn’t the same and they never wrestled and chased.
A few years back I saw a similar friendship develop between our dog and our two horses. Oreo was a typical Siberian Husky—loved everybody (worthless as a watch dog) and always wanted to play. He spent most of his day down with the horses, where it was fenced, (he also loved to roam.) and they became good friends. He would become ecstatic whenever they ran and played. He’d run behind chasing them, then run ahead as they chased him back. The only problem was they didn’t want to play as often as he did, so he’d try to entice them into it. He’d dash up to them, yapping, and then crouch down with his butt in the air and bounce around in front of them, making an awful racket. If that didn’t work, he’d jump up and poke one of them in the nose or go around back and leap up to pull a tail. Eventually, he’d get a response. My horse Portia would come at him, striking out with her front feet. My daughter’s mare Duchess was much more dramatic. She’d flatten her ears and open her mouth and chase after him, looking like she wanted to kill him. He’d run away, looking over his shoulder with an idiot grin on his face. And of course, she never “quite” caught him.
They’d been together for three years when Oreo died in a freak incident. I wasn’t aware of how much the horses missed him until I brought home another Siberian a few months later. The first time I brought Trina down to see the horses, they raced up to us whinnying and nickering. Then they started sniffing poor Trina who had never seen a horse before. After a minute they stopped and got very puzzled expressions on their faces. It wasn’t Oreo. They hung around for a little bit, sniffing occasionally and then wandered off, totally uninterested in this new dog. The next day when I brought Trina down, they walked up to see us, took one sniff and left immediately. Even though she eventually lived with them far longer than Oreo, Trina never became their buddy. She couldn’t replace their friend.
Have you seen different animal pairing too? What’s the most unusual friend you’ve had?
Dog and cat photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/dugspr/6853393375/”>dugspr — Home for Good</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/”>cc</a>
Husky photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/randihausken/389394090/”>randihausken</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>cc</a>
Such cool stories, Kate. I love animal tales. Our labs are related so of course they’re close. We have Annabella the mom and her son Jack and I am so afraid when one of them passes on that the other one is going to go totally berserk with depression. I saw it happen with another mom and daughter lab we had several years back. The daughter was so upset when her mom died that she was on antidepressants and was terrorizing our house when we were gone. She was never, ever the same.
Wow, that is hard.
We’re facing something similar with our horses. Portia and Koko, who are 30 and 29, have been together for 20 years. When one of them goes, I’m not sure what the other will do.
Our rescued Coon Hound, Beauty, and our indoor/outdoor cat, Calli, are the best of friends. Beauty’s been with us for 6 months but Calli’s been around for 17+ years. They snuggle on the sofa together. Beauty also tolerates Calli nibbling at her dog food. When they’re outside together, Calli walks under long-legged Beauty. But even though she’s a hound, she’s never chased any squirrel or cat. Live and let live is her motto.
That must be cute to see Cali walking under Beauty. And a hound that doesn’t hunt!