Thursday, November 05, 2009

Best Buddies: Tarra and Bella: The Elephant and Dog Who Became Best Friends by Carol Buckley

Meet Tarra the elephant and Bella the dog who won her heart.

Whatever attracted the elephant and dog to each other remains a mystery, but one thing is sure--Tarra and Bella are truly forever friends.

An ex-rollerskating circus elephant and a shaggy mutt seem like an odd couple, but it was a case of love at first sight for these two.

Bella had been retired from show business to become the first resident of Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee, a private park which provides meadows and woodlands for elephants emeritus. As other elephants were added to the herd, Bella seemed to take on the welcome wagon role, showing the newbies around barns, pastures, watering holes, and trails, but as the others paired off with each other for company, Tarra remained without a preferred companion.

That is, until one morning when Tarra awoke to find that she had a bed buddy--a shaggy gold and white dog sleeping right next to her. Unexpectedly, she touched the dog gently with her trunk and chirped a welcome, and an unlikely friendship was born. From that day the elephant and the dog, whom the staff named Bella, did everything together: they ate and walked and swam and even played hide and seek in the grass together.

Tarra even came to her friend's rescue one morning when she found Bella lying hurt in a shallow ditch surrounded by tall grass. The big elephant stood watch until the sanctuary staff noticed her anxiety and came to take Bella for medical assistance. Bella's big buddy remained by that spot all day, but when the caretakers did not bring her friend back, Tarra intuitively headed for the barn where Bella was resting after treatment. She returned there to visit her partner daily until at last the dog was well enough to be allowed out and around to resume their daily routines again.

Carol Buckley's Tarra & Bella: The Elephant and Dog Who Became Best Friends (G.P. Putnam's Sons, 2009) is filled with appealing color photos of this unlikely pair of forever friends. Other books which feature unusual bondings between intelligent animals include Owen & Mzee: The True Story of a Remarkable Friendship, the story of the unlikely bond between an orphaned baby hippo and a 130-year-old giant tortoise and its sequels, (see my earlier posted review here) and Koko's Kitten (Reading Rainbow Book), the equally amazing story of the sign-language-trained gorilla and the homeless striped kitten who became her best friend.

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