By Langley Cornwell
Something about interspecies friendships touches my soul. If you know me, you probably already guessed this, based on how many photos I post of my two dogs snuggling with my cat. I just can’t get enough of the cuteness. Sometimes it goes further than a simple interspecies friendship, though. Sometimes one species will go so far as to adopt an infant of another species.
It’s not unheard of for mammals to adopt orphans. Even humans have made use of wet-nurses when the mother could not or did not breastfeed. Yet not all mammals take it beyond weaning and end up raising the orphan as their own. And not all mammals adapt to the ways of the adoptive parents rather than ultimately finding their own kind and bonding with them.
Rosie (an orphaned kitten) and Lilo (a Husky) are the exception, and they take that exception to the extreme. These two have formed a bond so strong that Rosie has become part of Lilo’s “pack.”
So who are Rosie and Lilo?
Rosie was found at just 3 weeks old, barely hanging on. She was weak and lethargic, and may have been left behind by her own mother. In the wild, cats will sometimes leave their kittens behind if they feel that the kitten won’t survive. It’s a matter of saving resources for the kittens who will survive. And sometimes, it’s simply a matter of not knowing how to mother at all. No one will ever know how Rosie began life, but it is very clear how Rosie began really living.
Lilo is a female Husky who has never had pups of her own. Though she is as beautiful as most Huskies are, she could possibly be considered gentler than she is beautiful. In fact, her coat tone matches her subdued and loving personality. One might assume that since Lilo can’t have pups of her own that she would not exhibit some of the traits you associate with the best mothers; you may think her maternal instincts were not properly developed. If you made that assumption, you couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, Lilo proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that when it comes to nature vs. nurture, nurture can sometimes win out in the most unlikely of ways.
Rosie Meets Lilo
As Rosie struggled for life with no mother, it was believed she would soon pass on. Her caretakers did their best, but Rosie was just not responding to care. She had no energy and no desire to eat or do anything else to facilitate her survival. Then her caretakers had an idea. It seemed like a far-fetched plan, but since nothing else seemed to be making a difference, it was worth a shot.
Rosie was introduced to Lilo. It was love at first sight. Though Lilo has never had pups, her behavior was very motherly to other dogs. It seems that the fact that Rosie was a kitten didn’t make one bit of difference to Lilo. The dog simply saw a babe in need of mothering and got down to business. When Rosie started to suckle Lilo, the bond was sealed. Not only did Lilo let Rosie suckle her, she even went as far as to prompt Rosie to eat, just as if she were one of Lilo’s own pups.
New Pack Member
Lilo and Rosie have been inseparable since they first met. From the time that Rosie started suckling Lilo, all that followed was snuggles and the normal training that every mother dog gives to her pups. It seems that Rosie just needed a mother’s love to encourage her to thrive.
It also seems that Rosie doesn’t know she is a cat, an animal that traditionally is not accepted as part of a dog pack. For Rosie and the other members of Lilo’s dog pack, family isn’t determined by species, but by social and individual connections. Today, Rosie goes for walks with the rest of the pack and still snuggles up to the only mother she has ever known, a gentle and loving Husky named Lilo.
If you want to learn more about the amazing friendship between Lilo and Rosie, and see some of their awesome videos and photographs, you can visit them on Facebook and Instagram. Be prepared to spend a lot of time, and have your heart turned to mush!
Photos courtesy of Tram Bui
Read more articles by Langley Cornwell