Ever notice how your dog can have a calming effect on you? Turns out dogs also have a calming effect on cheetahs. The San Diego Zoo started pairing cheetahs and dogs 30 years ago, when zoologists saw that dogs kept the normally tightly wound big cats more mellow and grounded.
San Diego Safari Park is continuing the tradition of matching cat and dog. About three years ago, keepers brought in a shelter rescue dog named Hopper to be the companion of Amara, a 3-month-old cheetah. They’ve been together ever since.
While Amara doesn’t seem to eyeball Hopper much, she takes his lead as far as going calmly into situations where she might normally be skittish. Just having him around is a big influence on her, say keepers.
How cool is that? I love stories of interspecies friendships.
Does your dog have an unlikely companion, Dogsters? I’ll start the ball rolling:
Jake used to love to hang out with Porky, the guinea pig we adopted from my daughter’s classroom back when she was in third grade. (He needed a better life than a tiny cage and crazy classroom could provide.) Porky was free-range part of every evening, and he’d scamper over to Jake and snuggle up with him. They’d eat little carrots together, and Jake would groom Porky until he was damp all over with dog saliva.
It was pretty amazing to watch this 90-pound yellow Lab and this 2-pound rodent get on like old friends. When Porky died, Jake visited Porky’s big habitat every day for nearly a month until he realized that Porky had gone to the big watermelon in the sky (Porky’s favorite food was watermelon.) and was no longer going to come out and play.