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Dog Has Rodent for Best Friend. Heartbroken after Rat Passes Away

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About a month ago, I must have “liked” a post by “The Odd Couple.” The page posts videos about unlikely relationships in the animal kingdom.

While I don’t recall subscribing, my feed has been inundated with these adorable videos of which I can’t help but stop and watch. Animals who should be enemies have developed bonds stronger than most interpersonal relationships between humans, today.

An equally unlikely relationship developed between puggle, Pippin, and pet rat, Leia. Even owners 22-year-old Hayley Lopez and 21-year-old Tyler Lopez were uncertain about adding the rodent to their family three years ago.



Puggles are a mix between a pug and beagle. Beagles were bred as hunters, rodents being just one of their targeted prey.

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Pippin, however, doesn’t have a “hunting bone in his body,” Hayley commented. The pair became fast friends.

Instead of the allegedly instinctual hunter-prey relationship, the pair would play hide-and-seek and loved cuddling together on the coach. “They would always chase each other around,” Hayley recalled fondly. “

They were best friends and attached at the hip. Pippin would watch the cage and it was like they would be having a conversation.”

Hayley works at a pet store in Washington state and breeds rats. When Leia was the last left in a litter, she brought the charismatic creature home.

After a long bout of play, the pair would relax on the couch. “When she [Leia] was tired she would lie on him, Pippin would lightly rest his head on her while she slept.”

Then, the inevitable, yet still unthinkable, happened — Leia passed away. Pippin was devastated.

Perhaps one of the hardest things about these unlikely bonds is the difference in life expectancy. Invariably, one member is likely to significantly outlive the other.

Much like stories of human owners passing and the dog falling into listless depression, Pippin had to mourn the loss of his best friend. He stared at Leia’s cage as though expecting her to come out and chat.



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When she did not, Pippin headed outside and sat — in the rain — for a half hour where Leia was laid to rest. He could probably smell his friend, and Hayley believes Pippin was saying goodbye.

The notion that Pippin was saying goodbye isn’t as outlandish as it sounds on the surface. We make the assumption that animals are dumb and unable to communicate, yet we see so many examples of that not being the case.

It seems more than apparent that animals mourn the loss of significant relationships. Perhaps that is one reason why “rescue” adoptions tend to need a longer adjustment period.

Since, Hayley and Tyler have brought home another litter of rats. Pippin has taken to one, Toriyama, but Hayley admits that it’s just not the same.

Perhaps Pippin isn’t ready, perhaps the wounds of loss are too deep. When we loose a friend — human or otherwise — we’re not likely to run out and replace them immediately.

If the bond was strong enough, replacement isn’t possible, though new connections still are. Particularly when the loss is strong, our willingness to get back out there and get close to someone again is inhibited.

Although it is sad that this beautiful bond was broken, Pippin has a loving home that is happy to bring home companions for him to bond with. Still, my heart goes out to Pippin; I don’t even want to imagine losing my best friend.

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