Unlikely Friends



He weighs 165 pounds. And with six chicken breasts and four generous cups of dog food daily (with occasional salmon mixed in), it’s no wonder that Dexter is 25 times Toto’s size. He is not only large but solid — and strong. But I learned that, just as you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, you shouldn’t draw unfounded conclusions about a massive mastiff. He may look dangerous but be a gentle giant in disguise.

The first time I spotted Dexter in the neighborhood, I was a bit unnerved. So when we later crossed paths, I held my 6-pound Toto close fearing he could be swallowed up in one gulp. Never mind the coyotes prowling the neighborhood, this dog was monstrous and seemed to be an even greater threat — and he lived on the next block! With paws as big as Toto’s head and a leg longer than his whole body, I wondered and worried whether my tiny treasure would be trampled if he got too close.

But my concerns quickly subsided one day when we encountered Dexter and his owner, Scott, in their yard. Scott assured me that Dexter would not harm Toto as he towered over him, so I slowly let out the retractable leash. Immediately, off they ran — dashing around the yard like children at recess. Toto was out in front egging on Dexter to follow, and we burst out in laughter at the unlikely playmates.

On our next visit, the magnificent mastiff chased Toto around the yard but was quickly forced to a halt as Toto crossed the electric fence line. Then it happened again -- Toto circled and then ran out. It soon became obvious that Toto knew exactly what he was doing. Some might call him a tease; I call it genius. Toto raced at top speed around the yard with Dexter chasing him and then scurried across the electric fence line to safety. Dexter would stop immediately at the same spot each time and stare down his playmate in wonder as if he knew he was being duped — again. Clearly, what Toto didn’t have in size, he made up for in strategy. And it worked. Both ended up exhausted after playtime — the larger-than-usual amount of foamy drool dripping from Dexter’s mouth proved it.

As we walked home, I looked down at my tough little terrier and smiled as he reminded me of yet another important life lesson. Toto did not let fear stand in the way of making a new friend. The result: an unlikely bond was formed between a mighty mutt and a gentle giant.


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