updated 01/08/2009 AT 5:42 PM ET
•originally published 01/08/2009 AT 11:30 AM ET
What do you get when you cross an elephant with a dog? In this case, the unlikeliest of friends. Tarra, an 8,700-pound Asian elephant, and Bella, a perky stray pup, met on the Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, Tenn., several years ago. Tarra had come to retire, while Bella was one of the many local strays that called the sanctuary home. Generally, the pachyderms and puppies want nothing to do with one another, but when it came to this twosome, that was not the case.
“When it’s time to eat they both eat together. They drink together. They sleep together. They play together,” sanctuary co-founder Carol Buckley tells CBS News. “Bella knows she’s not an elephant. Tarra knows she’s not a dog. But that’s not a problem for them.”
Last year, Bella suffered a spinal cord injury, causing her to lay motionless in the sanctuary office for three months – she couldn’t even wag her tail. Instead of roaming through her 2,700 acres, Tarra stood watch outside the office every day, waiting for her furry friend to reappear. One morning, caretakers brought Bella out to a balcony to see her friend, and for the first time, her tail wagged. The two were reunited, and visited every day until Bella could walk again. Now back in good health and roaming the sanctuary, Bella even lets Tarra pat her tummy – gently!