Pal in the Wild: Sniffer and Tinni: A True Tale of Amazing Animal Friends by Bend Helberg
MEET SNIFFER, A FEARLESS RED FOX, AND TINNI, A PATIENT AND KIND GERMAN SHEPHERD, THAT LIVE IN THE SMALL NORWEGIAN TOWN OF SKI.
DESPITE THEIR DIFFERENCES, THEY HAVE BECOME BEST FRIENDS.
Walking in the forest near town with his owner one warm summer morning, Tinni, a dignified grown-up dog, found himself being suddenly tackled by an enthusiastic bundle of red fur--a baby fox who seemed to have lost his mother and litter mates and who really seemed to need Tinni for a playmate.
TINNI DIDN'T KNOW WHAT TO MAKE OF HIM!
The bemused dog allowed the little fox to climb all over him, sniffing and licking his nose, until he couldn't resist the invitation! The two started to play--chasing and tumbling like puppies through the grass. Tinni's owner named the little guy "Sniffer."
And surprisingly, during the next morning's walk, the little fox appeared again. The two were off on a chase through the woods. The agile little Sniffer was hard for the big dog to catch, running up fallen tree trunks and hiding in the branches, or dashing behind trees, jumping out to ambush his big friend. After a few days of morning meetings, Tinni's owner brought along food treats for Sniffer and toys for the two to play with. Sniffer was frustrated when he couldn't mouth a big ball in his little narrow jaws like Tinni could, but Sniffer could reach way down into a hollow stump until only his tail was visible, and was quicker at chasing squirrels through the underbrush. And when the winter came, the two rolled in the snow and curiously inspected their own upside-down reflections in the ice on the pond.
Berit Halberg's Sniffer & Tinni: A True Tale of Amazing Animal Friendship Sterling Books, 2016), illustrated gloriously with Torgeir Berge's up-close-and-personal color photos of the two unlikely buddies. Sniffer is an irresistible little orphan who will charm young readers as easily as he charmed the big German shepherd, and Halberg's simple narrative tells the sweet story of this unexpected friendship between two animals whose usual roles are to be lifelong foes.
Halberg's account joins the many fine accounts of unusual animal pairings that readers may also love to share, such as the photo-essay stories of the giant tortoise and young hippo, Owen & Mzee: The True Story of a Remarkable Friendship (See my reviews here) or the story of dog and elephant best friends, Carol Buckley's Tarra & Bella: The Elephant and Dog Who Became Best Friends. (See my review here.)