VIOLA - When Louisa, a Kunekune rescue pig, came to live with me I housed her in the Goat Palace with Luna and Peepers, my two goats. At the time Louisa was as small as a toy poodle. I had high hopes they’d all be friends, but whenever Louisa wanted to share their hay, the goats would butt her. I was constantly supervising and yelling, “No, no, no, please be kind!” to no avail.
While the rest of the crew here seem to intermingle well enough, until recently I wouldn’t say any interspecies friendships had developed. But I’ve always enjoyed imagining the possibility and hearing about famous friendships that have developed between different species. My favorites are Cassie the kitten and Moses the crow; Juniper the fox and Moose the dog; and Simon, a calf who arrived at a rescue sanctuary in Thailand after losing part of his hind leg, and befriended Leonardo, a giant tortoise. The two are now inseparable!
Téte, who gets scolded the most for being a troublesome hound-dog mix, has sometimes surprised me with her concern when my baby ducks fell down the flood-damaged slope, as well as recently when my flock was brutally traumatized by a raccoon attack. Té carefully used her nose to nudge the ducks back up the hill or gently herded the flock back to safety.
Téte is also sensitive when little Finnegan, the rat terrier mix, starts “reverse sneezing,” a typical problem with smaller dogs. Téte will immediately go to Finn and put her long nose on his shaking body. This seems to calm Finn, and soon the sneezing, which sounds like gasping, stops. But that’s about as interspecies as it got around here.
Earlier this summer, I took part in Petpalooza, a fundraiser for our local Driftless Humane Society Shelter. The event also sought to raise awareness about the many dogs and cats needing forever homes. Somehow, I came home from the event with two kittens. I named them Salvador and Ivan and had high hopes of finding them loving homes elsewhere after they were neutered.
Ruben, my Miniature Pinscher mutt, who is a rescue dog, was smitten with Salvador from the get-go. Sal quickly became Ruben’s kitty, as in “Where’s your kitty, Ruben?” It’s common to find Ruben sound asleep on my guest room bed with Salvador tucked up beside him.
Salvador is black and white, and Ruben mostly black. The two look like they belong together, the same way my black jeans, boots, and white snap-button shirt do.
After Sal and Ivan’s last shots, they were finally declared big enough (or something was declared big enough) for their surgery, and a date was set. I marked the calendar and, when the day came, put Sal and Ivan into their portable carrier, called for the dogs, and loaded up the car.
Ruben sat stock straight and still beside the carrier. The fact that he was sitting right next to it didn’t seem unusual at the time because it’s the side of the car he seems to prefer, or maybe just the one spot Téte allows him. The kitties didn’t make a peep, nor did Ruben—but then again, Ruben is always quiet. When he needs to go outside he doesn’t bark; he stands by the door and cries softly to get my attention.
I pulled in at the vet’s office, hopped out of the car, opened the back door, said, “Excuse me” to Ruben, and grabbed the carrier.
When I came back out moments later, Ruben was agitated. I started driving and he started barking. It wasn’t until we were at home and I saw him racing around the house, looking in all the nooks and crannies, that it dawned on me: I’d taken away his kitten. My guess is if I separated Louisa from the goats I wouldn't here a peep out of Peepers. Luna would be nonplussed, happy not to have to share their hay.
After work the following day, I once again loaded up the pups and headed to town to get the kitties. Sal and Ivan were lying together in the carrier looking sleepy. I collected their pain meds and instructions, set them in the car, and headed for home.
Ruben would not stop whining and crying! He pushed his pointed black snout against the metal screen door and was as vocal as I’ve ever heard him. I’m not certain if he was just glad to see his buddy, Sal, or if he was stressing because he sensed the little guys might be hurting. Whichever it was, it made the ride home seem extra long.
Salvador and Ivan quickly recovered and Sal remains Ruben’s best friend. Often Sal is lying next to Ruben, swatting at the dog’s tail, or the two of them are wrestling together on the couch. When it’s lights-out time, they often have to be reminded to settle down.
It makes me happy to see them try to include Ivan, but Ivan would rather have me hold him than play with those two monkeys!
Nowadays, Louisa weighs in at about the same as two large Mastiff dogs. She’s as solid as she is round, and sturdy on her delicate hoofs. If Luna and Peepers want to share her hay, they’d better ask first. Louisa is by far the boss lady of the Goat Palace.I wonder if, when Salvador grows from kitty to cat and Ruben from puppy to dog, they’ll still be best friends. Regardless, it looks like Salvador and Ivan have found their forever home right here.