In her two year life, our Shepherd / Labrador mix, Nora Ephron, has already cultivated a rich, diverse range of friendships.
In addition to her weekday playgroup in the city, she combines the weekends in the country with a number of species that go well beyond the dog. I’ve read about dogs adopting other animals to look after them, but from what I’ve seen with Nora and her growing dance card, she’s more of a social butterfly. Like the five-minute stories about friendships between species in the children’s scholastic book, Animal BFFs by Stephanie Pearmain, that’s relationships.
Ass. Ever since they first met at the fence that separated us from our neighbour’s farm, there has been an almost romantic interaction between 10-year-old donkey Ernie and our little Nora. Ernie gallops out of his outdoor shed to see her, and she leaps over to his face to say hello. Sometimes he returns the affection with a demonstrative kick. Nora always wants to visit Ernie and pull me up the hill to his field at least twice a day. We bring him and his buddy Bert (who doesn’t seem to notice the advertisement) carrots, which I feed both the donkeys and Nora. Everyone chews it quietly and happily. Goats. In every social environment there is always a “funny friend”. With their curious faces, horns, and spontaneous behavior, goats are absolutely funny, at least for me. The goats across the street often disperse when Nora approaches, but they also seem curious. You appraise her and she returns the favor. As a protective parent, I worry that one of them might bump her in the head, but I know it’s not fair to suspect the worst of a kid in the playground. If you read horoscopes you may already know that goats and dogs have a lot in common, including an interest in home and comfort. However, both are also prone to emotional insecurity; It is not clear whether they can deliver what the others need. I want Nora to be happy, but I also want her to be happy in the long run.
Sheep. Nora is intrigued by the meek sheep that live on neighboring farms, but friendships are difficult to establish as they will run away if she gets too close. As a shepherd, she has protective instincts and talents. For example, on a weekend last summer there was a break in the farmers’ fence while they were away. My husband Brian spotted six sheep in the middle of the country road. They had clearly taken a break, but as sheep they were waiting for the instruction. Our little Nora helped Brian push her back and then stood loyally in front of the guard until a relative came over to fix the fence. The farmer gently asked us to keep Nora away from the sheep so that they would no longer be afraid of dogs and therefore wolves, but Julie Hecht, a PhD student in animal behavior at the CUNY Graduate Center (who also writes for) The bark), does not believe that sheep who are afraid of dogs would transfer that fear to a predatory wolf. In any case, it was a little difficult to explain to Nora that she’s a far better friend to the sheep because she isn’t.