When I was a kid, I loved stories about inter-species friendship. I remember one of my favorites being "The Dragon Wore Pink", about a girl and a dragon. A short perusal of a few books from my childhood found stories about a man and an elephant, a crocodile and a bird, and a mouse and a (vegetarian!) cat. I also remember a book about a girl named Emily (that's me!) and her friendship with, again, an elephant. Although I discovered the story of Owen and Mzee as an adult, it captivated me just the same: Owen is a hippopotamus and Mzee is a giant tortoise. They live together in Haller Park, an animal sanctuary in Kenya. During a tsunami in 2004, baby Owen was separated from his family and rescued by a group of humans. At his young age, he wouldn't have been able to learn to live by himself in the wild, so the manager of Haller Park offered Owen a place there.
One animal in Owen's large enclosure was a huge, crotchety, 130-year old tortoise, Mzee (his name means "wise old man" in Swahili). As soon as Owen got out of the truck, he made a beeline for Mzee. At first, Mzee wasn't happy with all the attention Owen was giving him. However, park staff soon found Mzee encouraging Owen to eat. Soon after that, they were spending all their time together. They sleep next to each other, rub noses and nuzzle each other. According to the book "Owen and Mzee", the reasons are unclear why these two animals seem to like each other so much. It's pretty much unheard of for a reptile and a mammal to form such a close bond. But to the many people who come to visit Owen and Mzee, it's obvious that they are, indeed, BFFs.
I find it surprising that in all my writings about relationships, I haven't covered the human-animal bond, besides identifying that asexuals like cats. Growing up, I felt really different from other kids, and I identified more closely with animals than with humans-- much like Owen identifies more with Mzee than with other hippos, even if it doesn't seem to make much sense. It sounds a little sad, but maybe non-human friends shouldn't be underestimated. In a 1998 study by Gail Melson at Perdue University, she found that "pets fulfill many of the same support functions as humans for both adults and children...pet support, like human support, is associated with less stress and better adjustment and that this relation holds across varied family characteristics." It's true that relationships aren't exclusive to relationships between humans. It seems as though since ancient times, some people have always felt the need to escape humanity, if only for a little while, among animals.