Sometimes hard to imagine why two people, so very different in looks, position in life and other factors can become really close friends. I imagine that this difference yet this closeness of beings is familiar to all of us. Sometimes we might secretly admire a direct opposite but there is no doubt that somewhere there is a common line that draws the two together. Such a friendship does not limit itself to humans but is witnesses throughout the animal world around us.
Take that heifer and the show-pig for instance. During the days when our kids were members of 4-H Club and later Ag Classes, they began showing livestock which later turned into a lifestyle of showing Holstein cattle. But back in the very beginning, they tried showing other animals including pigs. Ella was a pretty little white pig that Tommy bought for a show animal and she grew and grew due to his constantly filling her feed trough. Well, Ella didnít do too well at the local livestock show, didnít make the sale so she rode back home with the family and was turned loose in the cow lot.
Ella wandered around the farm for a few days, eating whatever happened to be available and drinking from a water trough Tom made out of half of an old water heater tank. Sometimes Tommy took a brush to her rough hide and ever so often heíd give her a bath with the water hose. One day I noticed that Ella had taken up with a black and white heifer that had just had her first calf and was new to the milking herd. Ella followed the heifer, No. 188, around the lot and when the herd was shut up in the holding pen, lay down out by the cement water trough to wait for her. Once #188 came down the exit lane, there was Ella walking by her side out to the feed lanes. The pair became a common sight on the place, walking side by side whenever possible or lying down to rest during the day.
One day I was at the dairy barn when a sudden rain shower came up and as I stood at the glass window facing the pasture, I watched the cows stop grazing and turn their rear ends to the falling rain. Then I saw Ella trot to #188ís side. Look at her for a moment, then move up beside her and turn herself tail to rain.
Through the years Iíve watched cats and dogs become close friends so that they would sleep together in the same dog house. One black cat that came walking up the road one day became the playmate for my Great Dane pups, sleeping with them at night and playing chase in the daytime.
The closest friendship Iíve witnessed between animals was the love between Elvis, a spider monkey and Jesse Jackson, a black Doberman. Elvis was a baby when I got him and I carried him everywhere but in just a few weeks he became very active, jumping around and climbing trees in the backyard. Jesse showed a lot of interest in this little guy that seemed to be all arms and legs and was so very active. He sat on the ground staring up in the tree where Elvis was playing until the little monkey decided to come down and introduce himself. I watched as Elvis descended from one branch to another with Jesse studying every move. Actually I was a little afraid the Doberman might decide heíd seen enough of a monkey in a tree so I stood ready to protect Elvis in case of attack but there was none.
The two, dog and monkey sniffed each other, looked one another over, Elvis swung out of the tree onto Jesseís neck and that was that. They were friends for life. Iíve watched the two of them, Elvis sitting high on Jesseís shoulders, Jesse plodding along, make a tour of the farm. Every so often Elvis would jump to the ground and run along beside his friend, often resting a hand on one of Jesseís from legs. One of the most interesting parts of this friendship was watching Elvis sitting on Jesseís neck, reach around, pull up the big dogís lip with a couple of fingers and examine Jesseís teeth. He seemed to be counting the teeth in his friendís mouth, no doubt checking them out in comparison to his own.
I usually buy day old guineas that are shipped by USPS to the local post office. One time I ordered and the weather was a little chilly so the hatchery put half-dozen baby male chickens in with the guineas to help keep them warm. Those roosters grew up with the guineas and apparently thought they were guineas too. They roosted in the trees together instead of the chicken house with the other chickens, ate with the guineas and foraged the fields with them. The only difference in behavior was when the roosters began to crow. The guineas couldnít follow that.
Joyce Whitis is a freelance writer who makes regular contributions to the Empire-Tribune. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 254-968-8450.