Last updated: August 24. 2013 5:26AM - 151 Views

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Dr. John JonesDr. Sara’s mom, Cristy, lent my wife a book a couple of weeks ago. “Unlikely Friendships” by Jennifer Holland is a collection of tales about special relationships some animals have had with one another and the power and beauty of the animal-animal bond. Over the past four months, our little Betsy Louise has compiled quite a collection of unlikely friendships as well.On the first of July, I adopted a Welsh Corgi puppy. On the fourth, I wrote a column about that first day, a day where I inadvertently stepped all over the grieving process of my wife, Bonnie, for her special friend, “Princess” Bunny.Readers may remember that Betsy and I spent most of that first day “in the doghouse.” Betsy learned a valuable lesson, however — the fastest way out was to make friends. And she proved to be a quick study.Betsy began with Jimmy, our four-year-old Border Collie. Jimmy has always had an affinity for puppies, and their endless wrestling matches would leave both panting and soaked with each other’s spit. They were quite entertaining together, but more importantly, the slight smile I noticed on their mother’s face gave me hope.The cats were intrigued, too, especially Jobey, and soon he was in the fray, with his hair exhibiting the same Betsy mousse. It’s been interesting watching their relationship develop. At the beginning Jobey was twice Betsy’s size, now she is twice his. Yet they continue to play like they did on the first day.Ruthie, our calico with the liver shunt, is doing well physically, but she is kind of whiny. She enjoys being close to the action, as long as she’s not engaged in it. She will, however, wait at the back door for Betsy to come in, and allow a short chase. But, if there’s any contact, she immediately cries, “Mommy, Mommy, the puppy is killing me!” At least that’s what it sounds like.My dog, Robbie, was Betsy’s hardest sell — well, the second hardest. Female Border Collies tend to be a bit bossy and like to manage everything. Jimmy is okay with it; he’s more of a “go with the flow” type. He needs the direction. Betsy, on the other hand, wasn’t aware of the rules.Robbie also has never been fond of other dogs, except for Jimmy. She’s not mean; she just ignores them — more passive-aggressive than aggressive, I guess. She couldn’t ignore this puppy though, who was almost constantly in her face. Betsy’s tenacity somehow won Robbie over and soon they, too, were play wrestling, although not quite to the intensity of the Jimmy and Jobey matches. After Betsy was allowed to sleep on the bed a few weeks ago, many a night would find her “spooning” with Jobey, and lying back-to-back with Robbie.Which brings us to the most important friendship she has made, and the one I admittedly had some doubt being very likely. People grieve differently, I came to find out. I was ready for a puppy; Bonnie clearly was not. Unfortunately, that wasn’t fully realized until after the adoption.The main reservation Bonnie had was that she feared she wasn’t honoring Bunny’s memory, and that she would forget her.Ironically, it was uncanny how much the puppy was like Bunny. The first night she went into a “full Corgi twist,” a move we thought Bunny had patented, had the same hairy paws, and has since channeled Bunny’s “take a message and get back with you” attitude when called to return from pottying outside.As the weeks went by, Bonnie and Betsy spent more and more time with each other. Betsy seems to enjoy gardening, and the two have been going for long walks nearly every night.A few days ago, I believe a major milestone was reached in their relationship. I made some comment about Betsy being a dog, and was quickly corrected. “She’s not a dog; she’s a princess!” Of course she is, but then she had me from the first lick on my nose.Although I regret the pain my adoption decision caused, when I see them together now, I don’t regret the decision. Betsy didn’t make us forget Bunny. She made us remember her even more. And that has been a wonderful gift.As powerful as the animal-animal bond can be, the human-animal bond is much stronger. If you have recently lost a pet, take some time, but don’t over-grieve. A new best friend may already be waiting for you. Consider a visit to your local humane society, dog pound, or rescue organization. The human-animal bond is a terrible thing to waste.Dr. John H. Jones operates a mixed animal practice in Delphos with his wife, Dr. Bonnie Jones, and he raises Southdown sheep.


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