Larry the rescued tortoise and Cricket the golden retriever seem like unlikely friends. A dog and a tortoise? That would never work, you might say. And while it appears, at least at a surface level, that the only thing these two pals share is the fact that they both have four legs, what they also share is the strong bonds of friendship.
Christine Hill, their human mom, first saw Larry when she took her children to an educational animal center in Santa Barbara, California. Larry is the runt of his litter, so Hill noticed the other male tortoises in the enclosure mercilessly attacking him as Larry tried to compete for the affections of the female tortoises. When Hill mentioned this to Larry’s keepers, they told Hill they had to let nature take its course. But a determined Hill finally convinced the center to let her take Larry home.
Hill is a passionate animal lover and has more than 30 foster pets — including eels and lobsters she saved from a seafood restaurant —at her home in Palos Verdes, California. But when Larry first got to his new home, he immediately entered “self-defense mode,” Hill says. He would make a beeline to the fence in an attempt to flee. That is until he met Cricket.
“I know this sounds silly, but it was almost like they were chatting,” Hill told National Geographic of the first time Cricket and Larry met. According to Hill, Cricket simply sat down next to his new buddy, and that was all it took. “Since that day, they’ve been inseparable.”
Though Larry moves at, well, a tortoise pace, in comparison to frisky Cricket, the two take walks together, and Cricket always waits for his friend. When Larry hibernated last winter, he made sure to bury himself under Cricket’s bed.
On her Instagram, which you can follow @fozzcook, Hill shares photos of her menagerie at home, which includes, in addition to Cricket and Larry, another dog, two small rodents, a horse, a cat, four chickens, and some fish. And you thought cleaning up after just one dog was hard enough!
While Larry will sadly probably outlive his canine friend — African spurred tortoises can live for up to 70 years — right now he’s thriving.
“He’s a funny little guy—he has so much character,” Hill said. “He will come wobbling down the hallway to greet us with Cricket when we get home. Larry and Cricket really are the best of buds.”
If a tortoise is still too exotic for you, why not try a giant rabbit?