Tuesday, December 11, 2012


About two weeks ago PBS began airing its annual pledge drive.  As usual the programs have been simply spectacular.  I could not help but smile from ear to ear as I sat watching one of my favorite shows - NATURE.  The topic was animals of different species who develop remarkable, lifetime friendships - and what interesting bonds these are.  A dog with a cheetah, deer, rabbit, monkey; a goat with a horse; an owl with a domesticated cat; a lion and a coyote - budding relationships that have turned conventional wisdom upside down.  

My favorite part of the documentary featured Charlie, a horse who was blind and who developed a 16 year-old friendship with a goat named Jack.  Jack would lead Charlie on a path to graze, spend time with him in the sunshine and then would guide him back home.  After Charlie died Jack was was never the same.  Other relationships depicted were of a great dane named Kate and a fawn named Pippin.  Pippin was orphaned and Kate took it upon herself to be her sorrogate mom.  They experienced fun together through their connection.  The owner of Kate did not want to interfere with Pippin being wild.  So she would not hold or pick up the fawn.  In this way Pippin was able to remain wild, going into the woods and sleeping at night and then eating and playing with Kate during the day.  Another startling relationship develped between a goose and a tortoise, who'd been together for four years. The goose would oppose anyone or anything that would dare come near the tortoise.  A curious aliance grew -  which, by the way, reminds me of the biblical scripture, "And the lion will lay down with the lamb" - between a lion and a coyote.  Both acquired when each was about 2 months old.  Obviously the lion outgrew the coyote.  The owner stated that if he thought for a second that the coyote's life would be in jeopardy he would remove the coyote. Odd?  You bet.  But the oddest couples can make the most devoted relationships.  

Gaining a new perspective as to how relationships develop, we need to reassess how we think friendships form.  Emotions such as happiness, sorrow, joy, anger, compassion are not exclusive to humans.  For example, research on brain scans show evidence of how the body reacts to grief - experiencing sadness which Jack clearly displayed when Charlie died.  It was as if he lost his best friend.  There's oodles of evidence that illustrates how elephants are affected when they come upon the dead bones of other elephants - whether they were directly related to them or not - and how they spend quite some time mourning.  Kicking and turning over the bones.  

All these relationships have developed with the hand of humans however, and live in secured, restricted areas.  Could/would animals living in the wild develop these close bonds?  I've learned to think, feel, believe that any thing is possible.  Just look at the different friendships that have developed not only between humans but humans and other animals.  What do you think?  Cheers!!

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