Can animals have pets?

It wasn't until the arrival of Coco that I learned something about which i'd never thought before. I had been wanting to get a new horse but I hadn't worked at shopping for one. It was as though, in a vague way, I felt that the right horse would come at the right time, and that is what happened. Late one morning a truck and trailer came up our road and stopped in front of the house. Coco was the passenger in the trailer.

He was not a complete stranger as I know his mother, a palomino mare who is a purebred Morgan. His owners were friends of mine. Except for his delicate head and face, Coco doesn't resemble his mother, at least not in color.He is almost black, a shade which old timers sometimes refer to as wild black, and his build is both sturdy and pretty. Coco is Morgan. I had never had a Morgan before but I have always been interested in the breed. The breed is pure American, having originated in Vermont, where that great little horse, Justine, became the ever so great granddam of all our Morgan horses.

We led Coco to a small, well fenced pasture and turned him free to explore his new surroundings. Ears alert, he walked around and looked at the landscape, saw two cows and some horses in another pasture, and began cropping the sun dried grass. To make him feel more welcome, I threw in a flake of hay. Pete, a tall standard, came to the gate to stare at him and Coco trotted to greet Pete. Since Pete is an amiable horse, not given to kicking or biting others of his kind, we let him in to get better acquainted with the newest member of our family.

The two went through the usual ritual of sniffing each other, squealing, striking out with playful forelegs, rearing, whirling in order to flourish heels , running joyfully. Then Pete, forever hungry, say the hay, started to eat and Coco decided that he'd like some too. Together, nose to nose, they enjoyed lunch and we humans were pleased because the two had taken to each other.

That's what we thought. The small white burro, Domingo, came to the gate to see what was going on. Domingo has a way of being friends with everyone except pigs. He isn't especially fond of cows but he's never met a horse he can't like.He shares Pete's corral and pasture whenever he wants to. Being able to crawl under or through almost any fence, Domingo also visits Paco and Chulo who live in another field. We opened a gate so that he could meet Coco who appeared interested in making his acquaintance. Suddenly Pete objected. Ferociously Pete herded Coco away from Domingo and chased him violently.

Little Brother, being a curious pig, had to come see what the commotion was all about. For some time there has been an unusual rapport between Little Brother and Pete.Little Brother likes to lift his snout to Pete's face and make friendly remarks. Pete responds by attempting to tidy up the pig, washing him in a loving way. Little Brother then sprawls on his side, crooning happily to himself, as the grooming continues.

Little Brother's arrival on the scene made everything more violent. Now Pete had to protect both Little Brother and Domingo from Coco. We hurried to remove pig and burro and hoped that things would calm down now. Coco, perhaps needing the fee of a comforting hand, trotted toward me but this started activity all over again.

We put Pete in another pasture where he is not lonely since Domingo visits him when he makes his rounds. Coco is not lonely since Domingo likes to be with him much of the time.

Coco's previous owner said, "People have pets and so do animals. I've known dogs who had pet kittens, and a cat who had a pet rabbit. Pete likes having Domingo and Little Brother and you for his pets, and that's now it is. Perhaps Pete is a bit too possessive. . . ."

There's no harm in hoping that Pete will grow accustomed to seeing Coco around and, after a while, perhaps even decide to keep him.

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