with other animals—consider that well over half of all U.S.households keep pets. Less common than a human-pet con-
nection, and at rst glance more surprising, is a bond betweenmembers of two different nonhuman species. A dog and a donkey.A cat and a bird. A sheep and an elephant. This book represents just a small sample of the unexpected animal pairings that peo
ple have reported around the world. I describe the unions asfriendships, knowing that we can’t truly explain what emotionalstrings bind our nonhuman kin, but assuming that there issome parallel to our experiences. To me, friendship is as simpleas seeking comfort or companionship from another to improveone’s own life experience. Even if it’s had only briey, friendshipis a plus. And in all of the cases that follow, the animals involvedare arguably better off—more condent, physically stronger, inhigher spirits—after nding each other than they were before.Why do unlike creatures get together? Often biologists canpoint to an obvious benet to one or both animals—related tospotting predators, keeping parasites at bay, staying warm, nd
ing food. Scientists label such relationships with terms like com
mensalism or mutualism. This book is concerned with cases thatare a little less tidy. Some involve an animal taking a parentalor protective role toward another, probably instinctively. Othershave no obvious explanation. Perhaps the need for a good friendis not just a human thing after all.