When Carolyn and I first got together 35+ years ago, our two incredible dogs fell quickly and completely in love. Less expected was how her Lilly (a wild kitten rescued from a trap) took to Savannah (a parrot seized while being illegally smuggled into the country). Over time we were able to leave her aviary door wide open to allow her freedom which also allowed Lilly to enter. Our parrot gently groomed the tabby’s whiskers and learned to call the cat by name. Lilly certainly kept her bird friend entertained, and the only downside was, with Lilly asleep below Savannah’s perch, combing bird poop from her fur was a daily chore.

These days I share an office with a tortoise named Clovis who wanders freely much of the time. (He sort of has a “thing” for my feet, but that’s another story.) My little dog Lola also spends time at work with me, and their initial meeting proved completely surprising. Clovis is by far the smaller of the two but that didn’t stop him from turning into an Army tank in pursuit of a dog who was previously unaware that rocks can run:  he chased her around the room for a solid ten minutes. But by minute #11, the roles reversed with little Lola in hot but happy chase of the surprisingly swift tortoise. And that’s where it remains, the two taking turns running at and from each other in what I am fully convinced is mutually enjoyable play.

We’ve had lizards pal up with cats, a rooster befriend guinea pigs, cats and dogs obviously in love, and a potbellied pig potty-trained by our pups.  Most of our animals came to us after a pretty rough start, and often it was the gentle ministrations of our other animals that helped the newbie recover.

I get the Dr. Doolittle fantasy but the real joy is watching the animals communicate with each other. No disrespect to flies who probably also have lots to say, but I do enjoy being the fly on the wall when the animals chat among themselves. If dogs and turtles can play, cats and birds visit amicably, the question is why can’t people talk to people? Ponder that the next time you cast a glance towards Washington D.C.

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