They say that opposites attract, but some people would argue that there has to be at least a bit of similarity to make a relationship work. There has to be a common ground to start the chemistry, but sometimes the similarities are buried very deep. In some cases, it might almost go by unnoticed. But who really knows what forges a lasting relationship? Who knows what causes the spark to ignite an inseparable bond?
These are questions that have baffled mankind for centuries and every now and then a new dimension to the riddle gets added. Sometimes, there are bizarre and unnatural relationships that completely throw us off guard and leave us thinking that there is still so much that we need to learn.
Click ‘Start Slideshow‘ now! These are the times that we need to sit back and just watch the story unfold.
Cat Vs. Dog
Most people who love animals can be divided into either a cat person or a dog person. Both these sets of people have fairly set arguments for why they love the one or the other. They will also be able to tell you that the famous saying, ‘to fight like cat and dogs’ is not just a saying. These two species really do not get along. It is as if they are born with an instinctive hate for one another.
However, the animal kingdom has proven to be unpredictable at times and it happens that certain animals tend to break the mold, so to speak. Every now and then, the animals that we love, behave out of character and leave us dumbstruck. That is exactly what happened when one Wiener dog, decided to trespass in a lion’s den.
What happened left everyone around rather shocked and speechless.
Bonedigger is the name of a lion that grew up in captivity. For the greatest part of his life, he grew up in the Greater Wynnewood Exotic animal park. This park serves as a safe haven and shelter for exotic and wild animals and is based in Wynnewood, Oklahoma. The park, situated on 16 acres, was founded in 1997 and has come to be a shelter for many exotic animals over the years.
Bonedigger is currently one of 237 big cats that reside at the park. Thanks to the expert care that he receives at the park, he is able to live a full life and thrive. He has been living at the park for five years and he has probably made one of the most unlikely friendships imaginable.
When one considers the ferocity of a lion and the sheer power with which they take out their prey, it’s difficult to imagine how they can befriend anything really.
It’s Only Human
However, Bonedigger is not your ordinary run-of-the-mill lion. When he was born, he had a very rare bone disease that left him somewhat crippled. Left out in the wild, he would not have made it passed his first birthday. Lucky for him, there was the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park and he was taken in. Although he wasn’t in the wild anymore, he could still live a full life, surrounded by a new pack.
The park manager, Jack Reinke could very much relate to Bonedigger’s condition. Just like Bonedigger, Jack had to deal with a disability and find new ways in which to have a full life. Both his legs were amputated after a freak bungee jumping accident. This did not deter him from continuing to care for the animals in need.
On the contrary, it spurred him on and he could now relate to the animals on a much deeper level.
A Wake-Up Call
In 1994, Jack took part in a jump that would alter the course of his life forever. He fell 55 feet through a trap door and sustained serious injuries. So much so that his wife could hardly recognize him after the fall. He had broken his hip, back and shattered both his feet. To add to the injury, he also raked his intestines. He was lucky to survive the fall, but it was not one that he would be able to walk away from.
When he finally woke up, the doctors told him that he would never be able to walk again. The damage to his lower limbs, hip and back were so severe that they had to amputate. The doctors couldn’t risk infection, seeing that his feet were literally shattered.
They made the call to amputate. Jack was now left with a choice to accept or resent his situation.
A Little Help From My Unexpected Friends
It was only natural for Jack to be at a particularly low place in his life after the accident. It cost him something that he in all likelihood took for granted for years. Having lost both his legs, it was reasonable to expect him to sink deeper into a downward spiral. Lucky for Jack, he had a tremendous support network. Although his family was supportive, he found solace in the animals. The accident marked the beginning of an unlikely relationship.
Jack formed a strong bond with a lion named Tony, but it was his connection to Bonedigger that got him through his struggles. He maintains that if it weren’t for the lions, he would not have made it. By helping to bring up both Tony and Bonedigger, he was able to recover and face the world again.
He was able to look past his disability and focus on what he had, not his shortcomings.
Tony & Bonedigger Need A New Home
When people say they are cat lovers, you would expect an exotic Siamese cat or a well-groomed Persian or Burmese cat. Jack was a bit more adventurous and opted for a couple of big cats. If you didn’t know Jack and went for a visit, you might have gotten the fright of your life. Jack decided to keep the pair of lions at his house. Jip, both Tony and Bonedigger lived with Jack and his wife in their home.
At first, they were like any other newborn kittens, regularly needing a bottle of milk or formula. When they got a bit bigger, their diet included raw meat. One can only imagine how much meat Jack had to buy to sustain his pets. That didn’t matter because these two felines became like Jack’s best friends, especially Bonedigger.
They eventually grew too big for the house and had to move to their new home.
An Empty Nest
When the time came, it was as if Jack had to say goodbye to his best friends. There was certainly a big hole left in the Reinke household. However, the lions didn’t have to go too far. They moved into their own enclosures in the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park. Jack decided it was best to distance himself from the lions for a while, lucky for him he still had man’s true best friend to keep him company.
Jack’s three Dachshunds, Milo, Bullet, and Angel were still at home while Tony and Bonedigger were left to adjust to their new home. Everybody knows that moving is one of the more stressful activities that you can attempt and it is no different for animals. There was a big possibility that the lions would revert to their aggressive nature.
This is seeing that they were not exposed to human interaction every day anymore.
One Big Happy Family
There was one element of life with Jack and his family, which no one could have foreseen or catered for. Tony and Bonedigger grew up with Jack’s family and that meant that they grew up with everyone, even Jack’s three dogs. The three little musketeers must have felt pretty invincible while Jack and Bonedigger were still their housemates. For Tony and Bonedigger, having Dachshunds as friends must have been pretty normal.
From a very young age, they shared a dwelling with these tiny little k9’s. When they moved to the park it must not have been odd for them to see another Dachshund. That is where they met Abby, the fearless little Dachshund who called the park her home. She couldn’t be bothered by all the big, exotic cats that frequented the park. In fact, she was so undeterred that she found her way into Bonedigger’s enclosure.
And that is when the magic happened.
A Four-Legged Intruder
After being separated from their original family home and being kept away from regular human contact, no one could have guessed how Bonedigger would react to the intruder. Lions are naturally territorial animals and do not take unwelcome guests lightly, it usually ends up bad for the visitor. When Bonedigger saw the little visitor in his enclosure, his eyes lit up and his instincts kicked. It seemed as if he was in a mood to hunt.
The young Abby was seemingly unaware of the obvious danger that she put herself in. She had no idea that there was a ferocious lion on her tail and ready to make a meal out of her. Even though Bonedigger had a slight disability, he had no problem catching up with the little Dachshund.
His reaction when he finally did catch up, was as bizarre as the fact that Abby found her way into his enclosure in the first place.
To put the situation in a bit of perspective, lions are known to take down prey that are even bigger than them. They are strong and extremely agile. They aren’t called the king of the jungle for nothing. Taking on a Dachshund would be like a David and Goliath matchup, the only difference is that Goliath would smear David in this instance. Bonedigger would only have to give half a swipe with his paw to send Abby flying.
Bonedigger, however, surprised everyone and displayed a gentle giant-like behavior that took everyone by surprise. Instead of chasing Abby down and making a quick end to her life, he gently tapped her with his nose. It was as if he was so excited to see an old friend that he just had to rush over and greet her.
It often seems as if they are playing and enjoying a casual game of tag.
Picking Up From Where They Left Off
In the past, lions who have been ‘domesticated’ have often displayed an elephant-like memory trait. There have been times that they recognized former friends from an earlier stage in their lives and picked up where they left off. This is what happened to Abby and Bonedigger. It turns out that the two shared a very close bond. They were practically the same age and knew each other from the time that they were born.
Park officials stated that the pair actually met when they were between six and nine weeks old and that they spent a fair amount of time together. That is until Tony and Bonedigger moved to the Reinke residence. Abby continued to stay at the park and when Bonedigger came back it was like a grand reunion.
The pair basically picked up where they left of the last time they saw each other, as if they were never separated.
The Circle Of Life
Lions are pack animals and the alpha male is the one who protects the pack and calls the shots. They will literally defend their territory tooth and nail from any intruder. You would count yourself lucky if you were seen as part of the pride. Then you could walk around freely, knowing that the alpha male had your back. The very opposite is true for any would be an intruder who thought that they could walk about on the pack’s territory.
Abby was certainly one lucky dog. Seeing that she and Bonedigger shared such a close bond, Bonedigger considered her to be part of the family. However, by the time that he and Jack returned to the park, he was considerably bigger than Abby. It was as if he was very much aware of her vulnerability and decided to play the bigger, protective role.
He just started to mother young Abby and the two became thick as thieves.
The Animal Kingdom Magic
Reinke is known to be somewhat of a lion expert and he is quite aware of their habits and how they operate in nature. He knows that they are familial animals and display a deeper sense of comradery than most animals. This is probably why they are so successful and feared in the wild. However, for all his knowledge and expertise on lions, even he was taken aback by the uncanny friendship that existed between the two.
Bonedigger got along with all the Dachshunds, but there was something truly special in the way that he treated Abby. She was without a shadow of a doubt Bonedigger’s favorite. She often got away with a lot more than the other three dogs and their bond just seemed to grow stronger by the day. Ever since Bonedigger came back to the park, they just couldn’t help loving on each other.
It was as if they were joined at the hip.
A Common Ground
One might think that Abby and Bonedigger have nothing in common. They are historical sworn enemies. Coming from two completely different families of animals, they even their own set of idioms to illustrate just how deep the feud between the two species lie. In short, under normal circumstances, these two animal species hate each other. That begs the question as to what made the difference for Abby and Bonedigger. What tipped the scales in favor of friendship?
The truth is that they actually have a lot more in common than meets the eye. Besides the fact that they were born close to each other, they share one very distinct trait, hunting. We all know that lions are expert hunters, but few people know that Dachshunds are actually also very able little hunters.
They were originally bred for hunting badgers and their short legs enabled them to navigate tunnels with ease.
So Who’s The Boss?
Dachshunds come from a long line of hunters and have been known to be fearless little dogs. They have tremendous personalities that enable them to disregard their diminutive size and play with the big boys. They might look clumsy with their short legs, but they are amazingly agile and fast and can run with the best of them. They might be small in stature, but what they lack in size they most certainly make up for in heart.
That is most probably what made Abby such a compatible companion for Bonedigger. She was unperturbed by her size in relation to the lion. She seemed unafraid of being hurt by the massive feline even though he could crush her without any real effort. Like many other Dachshunds, Abby likes to think of herself as king of the castle. They have this false sense that they are invincible.
That is most probably why Abby thinks that she is the boss of Bonedigger.
Did Abby Push Her Luck?
Weiner dogs have the ability to wrap almost anyone around their pinkies (that is if they had any). They seem to be able to get away with murder. They are like those poor defenseless little kids in school who everybody wants to stand up for. This gives them to the power to boss everyone around. Whatever the reason might be, it works for them. Whether the lion just feels sorry for them, or whether he is truly intimidated by them, they get away with murder.
In Abby and the other three Dachshunds’ case, they push the envelope and have the ability to boss a lion around. Reinke said that it actually looked as if the dogs overpowered the lion. One moment they would be chasing the lion around the house and the next moment the roles would swop.
It seemed like were taking turns to play a game of cat and mouse, or rather cat and dog.
Nowadays, the relationship between the dogs and the lion have really grown to be one out of a movie. It often happens that truth is stranger than fiction and these unlikely comrades have grown to be inseparable. They never want to be apart and why would they? Who wouldn’t want to spend every day with his best friends, while not having a care in the world? Bonedigger and the Dachshunds couldn’t be happier. That is until the enclosure needs to be cleaned.
They are such close friends that being separated for even the smallest amount of time is a traumatic event. Cleaning Bonedigger’s enclosure is a regular activity and this is the only time that the lion gets separated from his k9 comrades. And every time that they are reunited, it is a dramatic affair.
The reunion is always an emotional and exciting time and always go together with licks and sniffs and w whole lot of playing.
The Dramatic Reunion
Every time that Reinke finishes with weeding the enclosure he can almost sense the anticipation in the wiener dogs. Their excitement is almost tangible as they eagerly await to be reunited with their feline friend. When the gates are opened they make a beeline for Bonedigger and games begin. When the lion sees them he instinctively takes on his protective role and counts his friends. He just has to make sure that everyone made it back after the separation.
Once the formalities are out of the way, the playing begins. Bonedigger just starts to love on his little friends and they follow suit. The dogs almost fight over who is going to lick Bonedigger in the face first and then the weirdest thing happens. They assert their dominance in the enclosure and actually make the lion roll over.
It is quite a bizarre, yet beautiful reunion that one can never grow tired of.
Finding A Meaning For Life
Reinke has been really blessed by the relationship that he saw develop over the years between Abby and Bonedigger. Their growing bond is something that he maintains is what helped him get through his darkest times. After the accident that saw him lose his legs, he needed someone or something that he could relate to. Bonedigger gave him something to hold on to while he dealt with his situation.
Seeing that Bonedigger also had a disability, he found a special place for him in his heart. Reinke mentioned that Bonedigger was his favorite lion in the park and that he was just the best companion ever. Bonedigger might be completely oblivious to the fact that he helped Reinke get out of his dark hole, but he did so nonetheless by just being an amazing companion.
Just as Reinke has his favorite lion, so Bonedigger also has his favorite Dachshund.
A Lesson Learned
Reinke learned so much from the unusual relationship between the lion and the dogs and would be forever grateful to them for that. The biggest lesson that he learned from them was probably that of acceptance and change. It doesn’t often happen that a wild lion with all its power becomes so tame that it lays down its strength and ferocity and takes on such a caring nature. It also doesn’t often happen that a small dog becomes the center of that tame affection.
It must have taken tremendous courage from the little Dachshund to live so wild and free in the face of an animal that can end its life without so much as a thought. Reinke learned that you simply have to make the best out of every situation and be able to adapt to the circumstances that you find yourself in. To live life without fear is so much more worth it than to live with bitterness and regret. You only need to be able to change and accept when life calls for it.