Compassion, Goats, Family & Tortoises


PBS had a special about unique animal relationships, and it’s also on Netflix. Here is the link to some of the strange combinations of animal relationships. All of the combinations are unlikely friendships, different types of animals that should not even like one another. Some were actually predator/prey animal scenarios in the wild, but against the odds, they became friends. **All of the pictures in this post came from the link above, from the PBS special.**

My favorite two animals were a blind horse and a goat. Jack, a 16-year-old goat, formed a touching relationship with Charlie, a blind 40-year-old horse. Jack essentially became Charlie’s eyes, and would lead him around the ranch property where they both lived. The owner said that Charlie first lost site in one eye, so Jack led him on his good side. He just instinctively knew which side was the horse’s blind side. When Charlie lost site in his other eye, Jack began to lead right in front. There was a bad storm one day, and Jack the goat came screaming up to the house until the owners came running out and followed him. He led them down the path to a bunch of twisted trees where Charlie was trapped in the center. The owner knew from that moment on that she no longer had to worry about Charlie, because as long as Jack was around Charlie would always have someone looking out for him.

The amazing thing about Charlie and Jack is that these two animals prove that compassion  exists between animals. Jack had absolutely nothing to gain from the relationship with Charlie. Their relationship is a model for what we should strive for in our lives. I can’t count how many times I’ve heard people talking about who deserves kindness or who deserves assistance. Compassion from another being is not something that is always deserved or earned. There have been moments in my life that I have been given more than I deserved.


The photograph above is of Great Dane, Kate and her surrogate daughter deer, Pip. The deer was abandoned in the woods as a doe by her mother. Kate’s owner rescued her, and Kate adopted the doe right away. Once Pip grew into an adult, fully integrated into a herd of deer, she still visited Kate regularly. Even though Kate looked different and smelled different from the deer in the herd and different from Pip, she was Pip’s mother in every way that mattered. She was not related to her by blood, but their bond was so fierce that even once Pip had fawns of her own, she brought them back to see Kate.

Some of the other relationships between the pairs of animals began when they were just babies, such as the bottom picture below. They were paired together before they knew they weren’t supposed to be friends, and the same can be said for children. People are not born hating or judging one another, these are traits that are taught.


Perhaps the most interesting pair was a male goose and a female tortoise. Geese mate for life, and the goose decided that this 45-year-old tortoise was his mate. They are inseparable. The goose follows the tortoise everywhere, not allowing anyone else to come anywhere close to his girl.

All of these animals reminded me of blended families. They don’t pay attention to what they are supposed to be to one another, and follow their feelings instead. It doesn’t matter that they are not blood-related or whether or not they are even the same species. Family is family, regardless of blood.

Trish Eklund is taking a nontraditional approach to parenting children after divorce and remarriage. Raising her two daughters of ten and fourteen with her husband, ex-husband, and his wife, they consult one another on all parenting decisions. Trish has been featured on, and She is a regular writer on, writer and co-editor for Her View From Omaha. Follow her on Twitter: @trishiewriter, Google +, and Pinterest.