Published: Sunday, June 2, 2013

Crippled lion is dog’s best friend

Crippled lion is dog's best friendA 500-pound lion and an 11-pound dog have formed an unlikely friendship, proving that cats and dogs really can get along.
Bonedigger the lion and Milo the dachshund live together at Garold Wayne Exotic Animal Park in Wynnewood, Okla., along with three other dogs.
The puppies were introduced to Bonedigger in 2008 when he was just a 4-week-old cub. A metabolic bone disease rendered the lion mildly disabled. Park president Joe Schreibvogel — who goes by the name “Joe Exotic” — thinks the lion’s state has something to do with the connection the animals formed.
“The dogs thought it was just a big puppy and have loved each other since,” he said. “I also think they know the lion is not as normal as the rest.”
Exotic says that Milo and his littermates sensed that Bonedigger was crippled, and they sought to protect him. Today, the animals cuddle, dine on raw meat together and even mimic each other.
Milo is Bonedigger’s closest friend, and he often tries to imitate the lion’s growls. He also serves as Bonedigger’s personal dentist.
After the animals eat, 5-year-old Milo licks the lion’s teeth clean, and Bonedigger returns the gesture by licking the dog with a tongue nearly the size of the dog’s head.
Although seeing four small dogs run around the grounds with the king of the jungle concerns some visitors, Exotic says he wouldn’t dare separate the animals.
“You do not ever try to take his dogs out of the yard,” Exotic said. “[It] makes him very mad. They sleep on top of him.”