A Really Odd Couple: Dog and Capybara


I’m afraid you’re going to get a number of these stories here on the pets blog, every time I find one. At least I did sit on this story for a while, waiting until more time had passed until the last time I talked about an unlikely animal friendship.

Human interest news website tonic.com has the tale of the recently developed friendship between a domesticated dog and a capybara. For those who don’t know, the capybara is the world’s largest rodent. It’s native to South America, particularly the wetter/more tropical eastern half.

Charlie the capybara bonded with Pacho, a shepherd mix dog, when the two met at the Explornapo Lodge, an eco-tourism post located along a tributary for the Amazon River. Charlie, who was the size of a guinea pig as a baby but now weighs 70 pounds, was brought to Explornapo after being rescued from a family who wanted to keep him as a pet. Explornapo employees tried to set Charlie free after rehabilitating him, but he kept coming back.

The capybara’s constant return might have had something to do with the companionship he’d struck up with Pacho, another Explornapo rescue. An employee of the lodge found a three-week-old domesticated puppy only weighing two pounds. She nursed him back to health and then Pacho made friends with Charlie.

Though the two mammals are similar in size, Pacho has definitely taken up the role of Charlie’s protector. He wards off gray winged trumpeters, which are small birds that like to pick the bugs out of capybara coats, from snapping at Charlie’s back. During their frequent dips in the nearby Napo River, Pacho makes sure Charlie, who by nature isn’t a strong swimmer, stays in the shallow end. If Charlie strays, Pacho herds him back to safer waters.

The two even have each other’s backs during mealtime. They developed a scheme wherein one stands at one end of the kitchen and the other at the opposite, thus maximizing the range which they cover for catching scraps. When they’re done scavenging they combine their bounty and share it between themselves.

And of course, because Charlie and Pacho’s friendship already has me “awwing,” they also curl up together and cuddle when it’s time for bed at night. Unfortunately the article doesn’t have any pictures of them cuddling, but it makes up for it with a YouTube video of the pair going about their day seemingly joined at the hip.

I thought my story about a domesticated cat adopting a bobcat kitten was adorable, but I can barely handle this one. I’ve seen dogs I thought were best friends spending more time apart than Charlie and Poncho seem to. In the video they walk beside each other with mere inches of space between them, and the stories of their various antics make me melt.

I know I’m perhaps anthropomorphizing animals a bit too much, but I also think this story proves that they can form strong bonds with other species as well as they can within their own and with their human owners. What a nice heartwarming tale to start off the week.

Related Articles:

Karim the Cross-Country Cat

Rare Pets: Hedgehogs

Keep Your Eyes Peeled For Missing Capybara

Do You Feed Your Dog People Food?

Vivi The Dog-Fast Becoming One Of New York’s Urban Myths

*(This image by Muriel Gottrop is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.)