While certainly some would cluck their tongues in sympathy, most would still drive on by, many wouldn’t give a backwards glance...

-- This Sick Puppy Was Saved By An Unlikely Friendship That Will Melt Your Heart -- This Sick Puppy Was Saved By An Unlikely Friendship That Will Melt Your Heart

-- This Sick Puppy Was Saved By An Unlikely Friendship That Will Melt Your Heart

-- This Sick Puppy Was Saved By An Unlikely Friendship That Will Melt Your Heart



While certainly some would cluck their tongues in sympathy, most would still drive on by, many wouldn’t give a backwards glance, and even fewer would stop. Yet when Jenny and Jimmy Desmond passed the sick little puppy when driving through the remote village – they became part of the latter. They decided to take the dog in. Yet little did they know, that even though they would save the dog, somehow they would still end up in tears.

The Discovery

It was in the late ’90s that this couple found both each other and their shared passion for rescuing and rehabilitating wild animals. And it was after embarking on a round-the-world trip in the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Center in Borneo, an island in Southeast Asia, that these two got their first real taste of wildlife conservation – and their mutual love of animal rehabilitation was ignited. 


The couple then spent the next few years volunteering at wildlife sanctuaries across Asia and Africa, until they were eventually called to the African nation of Liberia to run the Liberia Chimpanzee Rescue and Protection (LCRP) facility. It was here that their lives were forever changed. 

A Puppy in Need

It was a regular day in 2016 when the couple was driving through that remote village, a regular day; however, until Jenny spotted something on the roadside that was anything but ordinary.  The puppy was alive, but barely. And it was up to these two - who had made it their mission to dedicate their lives to wildlife preservation - to help this dog in any way they could.


After pulling up to the side of the road, Jenny began assessing the pup’s health, and it soon became apparent that without immediate medical attention, the dog had little chance of surviving the night. However, it soon became apparent that saving this dog’s life was not going to be a simple task.

A Change of Heart

The villagers surrounding them showed little if any concern for the sick animal. And when questioned, they denied any knowledge or responsibility for its health. While it was obvious that the pup was in bad shape, there was little Jenny and Jimmy could do to get these people to help. 


Things got worse when Jenny tried to take the dog to her truck. What was simply an apathetic attitude a minute ago, soon turned to aggression. One man went so far as to tell Jenny that if she wanted to take the stray dog, she would need to pay for it. 

The Escape

Not in the business of haggling over animal’s lives, Jenny needed to think and act fast. After convincing the villagers that she would take the dog, nurse it back to health and return it to their care, they agreed to let them go. It was only later, back in the truck with Jimmy and the puppy - now safely by her side - that Jenny admitted she had no intention of returning the animal to the village. But the three were not out of the woods yet. It was still to be determined how these chimp experts were going to save the life of an extremely ill dog.


As Luck Would Have it

As it turned out, the sickly pup could not have landed up in better hands. While their expertise was certainly primarily in chimp care, Jimmy was a trained veterinarian and Jenny had worked with – and saved- everything from crickets to owls. 


Back at the Liberia Chimpanzee Rescue and Protection (LCRP) facility, Jenny and Jimmy were able to get a closer look at their new companion and could not believe the extent of the puppy’s terrible condition. 

The Road to Recovery

This little dog, who by now had been named Snafu, was plagued with a slew of infections and health issues. Walking on shaky legs, Snafu would not, or could not, put up a struggle when being handled by the couple. The next few days would be critical, as Jenny and Jimmy focused on building his strength and bonding with him. 


Snafu was cleaned and fed, he was shown love and affection, but unfortunately, despite the attention and care he was receiving, the pup showed  little signs of improvement. 

Slowly Does it

It was only a few days later when the couple was just beginning to lose hope that little Snafu made a change. He began walking on steadier legs and even started to give a delighted Jenny and Jimmy little kisses. But he was not out of the woods yet, for now, it was time to start treatments against his many infections. 


As a vet who specialized in emerging diseases, Jimmy felt confident that he knew how to tackle Snafu’s numerous health issues. Yet illness and infection were not the only obstacles this little dog had to overcome.

Hunger Pains

Snafu was extremely malnourished from his many days of not eating, and the lack of food had now put this little pup in the position where his body had begun digesting its own muscle. This was where Jenny stepped in.


An outstanding nurturer when it came to her animals, Jenny made it her mission to ensure Snafu was eating as much food as possible on a daily basis. And her perseverance paid off. Before long, Snafu began acting as a dog should. But with newfound energy came newfound problems, soon Snafu began picking at his many wounds, a behaviour that could lead to new infections.

A New Family

Jenny decided to put a cone around Snafu’s neck- the only measure she felt would stop him from injuring himself further. And soon the pup began exploring the sanctuary and making friends with the other animals. 


Jenny and Jimmy watched this unfold, with more than a hint of nervousness. Despite gaining back most of his health, Snafu was still a shy and timid little dog, and it was hard to tell how he’d get along with all the chimpanzees- who could be both curious and extremely territorial. 


An Unbreakable Bond

As it turned out, Jimmy and Jenny could breathe in peace, for the chimps and Snafu would bond together beautifully. Still fragile from his conditions, the apes would watch over the pup like protective parents, carrying him up and downstairs and leading him around the sanctuary grounds. 


As Snafu aged and matured, his relationship to the chimps changed from one of a child to peer. It was not an uncommon sight to find Snafu nestled with the apes as if he were one of their own. And as the months went by, life with the chimps brought on significant changes to Snafu.

A Dog is Born

Over the course of a year, the timid little pup disappeared forever. And in his place stood a proud, confident fully grown dog. The cone long gone, his fur fully regrown and his timid demeanour was replaced with that of a lively, happy canine, which ran freely throughout the sanctuary and played with his chimp pals. 


Snafu could not have asked for a better or happier home – yet this placed Jimmy and Jenny in a great dilemma. The sanctuary was as busy as ever, and there was no shortage of chimps needing to be rescued. Jenny and Jimmy were running out of free space for any new patients that needed their help, and the couple soon found themselves having to make a tough decision regarding Snafu’s future.

A New Future

While their love for Snafu knew no end, Jimmy and Jenny’s first priority at the sanctuary needed to be the chimps. With work being so busy, they began to feel that the little rescue dog was not receiving the love and care he needed and deserved. 


After some long and tearful discussions, it was decided that Snafu’s future would not be at the chimp sanctuary. And it was Jenny who thought of the perfect place for Snafu to call his future home. 

Homeward Bound

The green brush and dirt paths of Liberia, Africa was to be replaced by the concrete jungle of the United States of America.

 Soon Jenny, Snafu and Princess, the couple’s second dog, boarded a plane for the other side of the world.


 The plan was for Snafu to live with Jenny’s sister and nieces. So while he may not have been able to stay with his adoptive mother forever, at least he would remain with family. Snafu was to be given a comfortable life in America, albeit not as exciting as a chimp sanctuary. 

The Colorado Canine

Jenny and Snafu shared a heartfelt goodbye, with Jenny knowing that her little fighter would make it work no matter where in the world he was.   


With a new loving family and a beautiful house to call home, Snafu settled quickly and happily.

Making Headlines.

It wasn’t long before the story of the pup's happily ever after in America reached the internet, where major media outlets grabbed hold of the news and took it to new and unbelievable heights. 


Going Viral

The rescue pup’s story made headlines. Outlets such as The Dodo and YouTube reported the touching tale with a series of video and interviews. And reporters were quick to trace the couple and convince them to relay their experience with Snafu. 


The Fight Must Go On

 Since then, the Desmond family have remained in the limelight, using their fifteen minutes of fame to help push their cause of helping chimps and wildlife across Africa. ABC recently contacted the couple and covered the story of Leo, a baby chimp torn from his family and forced to spend his youngest months in a cage outside of a bar in a Liberian national park, before being taken in by the Desmonds. Leo was immediately welcomed by the other chimps and soon settled successfully. 


 While the couple continued to serve their lifelong mission of stopping chimp trafficking in Liberia, it, unfortunately, is not a fading industry. Despite the high number of chimps rolling into their sanctuary, the couple is constantly fighting an uphill battle.

The Battle Continues

Africa’s animals have many threats against them, and while the loss of habitat is the main enemy, poaching and its $10 billion a year industry, isn’t far behind. Chimps often find themselves the victims of the live pet trade or the bushmeat market – the numbers become too much for Jimmy and Jenny to go up against alone, yet they do their best.   


The couple specialize in pushing strategies to fight against chimp trafficking, helping some that have come from even the most unimaginable of circumstances.

Power in Numbers.

While one lone sanctuary might struggle in a fight against a trade as lucrative as chimp trafficking, thankfully the LCRP is far from alone. They have conservation partners like the Jane Goodall Institute, EcoHealth Alliance, Smithsonian Institute, Uganda Wildlife Education Centre and the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International.


Each of these organizations does their part in helping to track trafficked chimps and rescue them. However, getting them out of the horrid environments they’re kept in is only half the battle. Most of the rescue chimps had been subjected to unthinkable circumstances and arrived at the sanctuary depressed and traumatized. Every rescued chimp goes through therapy and is built back up into a healthy ape.


Some Notable Rescues

One baby chimp named Gloria witnessed the passing of her mother and spent months locked away in horrible conditions with very little company from other chimps or humans. Jenny and Jimmy were able to collaborate with the UN Mission to successfully rescue her. Another baby ape named Gola went through a similar experience. She was saved by a ranger, but the poachers escaped with her mother, who was sold for bushmeat.


 Likewise, a baby chimp named Jack spent his early life hidden away in a chimp trafficker’s backpack. Though obviously not in good shape when being rescued, Jack went on to make a full recovery. Today, all these chimps are thriving along with hundreds of others who have been saved by the LCRP. And with any luck, Jimmy and Jenny will be working for the safety of Africa’s chimps for years to come.

Another Odd Couple

Finding a real friend isn’t easy, but if you’re lucky enough to manage it, your whole life changes. Today, we’re looking at a very special friendship and quite an unlikely one, between Bonedigger, a ferocious lion, and Milo, a tiny Dachshund. No one would ever expect such different species to form a unique and special bond, but Milo and Bonedigger have defied all odds and built a relationship together. If you’re looking for a heartwarming story where opposites attract, you’re in the perfect place. These two are best friends and there are photos to prove it, but the story of their friendship is one that is just as special as these two very different animals are. Read on to learn more about how these two met and became fast friends, many years ago.


Meet Bonedigger

Bonedigger is a huge male lion. He weighs in at a whopping 500 lbs. and, like all lions, has the potential to be a killer that could threaten even men. Yet, he has a soft heart and a special place in his life for little Milo. While these two friends are very different and come from backgrounds that are worlds apart, they both suffered difficulty that brought them into each other’s lives. Now, they’re inseparable. Everyone could stand to learn about friendship from Bonedigger and his friend, Milo. They make an odd couple, but their love for each other and tolerance set an example that we could all follow. These two don’t care about their differences or that the world thinks they should be enemies, they’re just happy to hang out together.


At the Animal Park

Milo and Bonedigger live together in an animal park, the G.W. Exotic Animal Park found in Wynnewood, Oklahoma. While Milo isn’t exactly an exotic animal, he gains his fame from spending time with his pal, the king of the jungle. In fact, there are a number of Dachshunds living at the animal park and they all get along well with the lion, but Milo is definitely his favorite pal. 


The two were raised by Mr. Reinke, who is a pretty amazing creature himself, albeit a human one. This man has a special touch with the animals and has created a park home for them that fosters the unique bonds they’ve formed. Mr. Reinke is someone worth reading about, too, and we’ll cover a bit of his story shortly. It is, after all, an integral part of the story of Milo and Bonedigger.

Meet Mr. Reinke

A unique human being himself, Mr. Reinke is responsible to looking after animals and he absolutely loves them. He’s a double amputee, with two prosthetic legs, but he doesn’t let that slow him down at all. In fact, since he can’t completely rely on his legs, he’s turned to helping animals who have health issues, too. 


He’s been dedicating his time to looking after Milo, Bonedigger, and even more animals at the animal park for the past several years. Despite the issues he’s faced himself, Mr. Reinke has never lost his compassion or interest in his furred counterparts. And the animals don’t seem to care whether he has legs or not . . . as you can see from the photo, they love their caregiver deeply and enjoy spending time with him.

Interspecies Communication

According to Mr. Reinke, the most surprising thing about the unusual friendship that Milo and Bonedigger enjoy is the fact that they actually communicate with each other. Though from distinctly different backgrounds, they “talk” to each other all the time and appear to understand each other. 


Bonedigger will roar fiercely, as lions are wont to do, and instead of running or cowering like a normal dog, Milo huffs back at his pal, seemingly telling him to calm down or giving advice. While no one is completely certain what they’re talking about, the creatures definitely have their own methods of communication. It’s certainly a sight to see and is something that visitors to the park are likely to notice if they happen to see the huge lion and his tiny pal together.

Dinner’s Served

Even an experienced animal handler like Mr. Reinke finds it interesting to observe how Bonedigger treats his little friend. Not only is he gentle and very careful not to injure Milo, who is considerably smaller than him, but he even shares. The lion enjoys large meals of raw meat, fit for a king of the jungle, but he rarely eats alone. 


He’s more than happy to share his dinner with Milo and the other Dachshunds that live on the animal farm. It’s a strange dynamic and one that Mr. Reinke is surprised by. After all, most lions are fairly aggressive about their food and with his size, Bonedigger could easily appropriate the entire meal for himself, but he happily invites his friends to eat with him. Honestly, we could all learn a little something from this gorgeous, friendly lion.

A True Friendship

Chances are, you’d never see a tiny creature like a Dachshund and a lion acting like best friends in the wild, but in the G.W. Exotic Animal Park, anything is possible. These two would never have found each other otherwise, but here, in the animal park, they’re able to spend their time together, playing and resting together, as well as “talking” in their own unique way. 


There’s no shortage of love here and people love to see the photos and videos of the animals loving on each other. They snuggle and play fight, with Bonedigger always taking great care not to hurt his best friend, despite the differences in sizes, and even eat and nap together. It’s positively adorable. But things weren’t always this wonderful. In fact, their difficult past is what truly bonds these two together.

Not All Sunshine and Rainbows


There’s something we’ve neglected to mention until now and that is that Bonedigger is ill. He suffers from health issues that have disabled the huge lion and his illness affects nearly everything he does. It’s a very serious problem for Bonedigger, but it never stops him from enjoying life and living it up. 


He is still very interested in playing and hanging out with Milo and while he is not doing well every day, the two friends are always up for a little love and hanging out together. They live life to the max, which is more than we can say for many people who are in perfect health! Read on to learn more about Bonedigger’s debilitating disease and the role Milo plays in keeping the lion in great shape, mentally and physically.

A Lion’s Struggle

Bonedigger has been diagnosed with a metabolic bone disease which means he is constantly dealing with health issues and exhaustion. It causes ongoing problems for him and makes him weak, as well as causing chronic pain. He handles the disease well, but that is largely due to the companionship of Milo. 


Whenever the lion is feeling low or his illness is hitting him hard and he can’t move much, Milo is always there for his pal to raise his spirits and keep him interested in life. There is a very special reason for their friendship and without Milo, who knows where Bonedigger would be. He enjoys hanging out with Mr. Reinke, of course, and is kind to all the G.W. Exotic Animal Park Dachshunds, but there’s something special about his pal, Milo.

Taming the Beast

When you look at the photos of Mr. Reinke and his lion, you might be tempted to call him a lion tamer. After all, while it’s bizarre how well Milo and Bonedigger get along, it’s downright weird that he also gets right in there with a human. Mr. Reinke has no fear of Bonedigger, despite his size and the ferocious lion reputation. 


He is more than happy to get up close and personal, and for his part, the lion is most comfortable with his human when he’s sprawled across Mr. Reinke’s prosthetic legs. The two of them may not share the exact same bond as Milo and the lion, but there is definitely something special there. And it has nothing to do with Mr. Reinke being a lion tamer, which he is most certainly not.

In the Beginning

The main reason Mr. Reinke and Bonedigger are so close is that the man has been feeding the lion by hand since babyhood. When Bonedigger was a little cub, Mr. Reinke would look after him and made sure he got enough to eat. That helped form the unique bond between man and lion, which we’ve seen before in captivity. 


However, they’ve taken things a bit further and Mr. Reinke has even trained the lion to follow some of his commands. The lion listens and obeys, much like a dog and not at all like we’re used to seeing lions. When the bond is this strong and you have a lion who was raised from cubhood by a human, however, you can get away with a whole lot more than you would with a wild lion. Combined with the friendship Bonedigger has with Milo, there’s no shortage of moral support for the feline.

Another Good Friend

We’ve seen that Bonedigger gets along equally well with dogs and humans, but what about other cats? He’s not the only large cat to live at the animal park. In fact, there’s another one there, named Tony. He’s a tiger and he has also been raised in captivity. Unlike Bonedigger, Tony is a health feline and doesn’t deal with any kinds of health issues.


The two grew up together and they also enjoy hanging out together, though they don’t have the same sort of friendship that the lion does with his dog friend, Milo. Tony also brings plenty of people to the animal park to enjoy watching him play and wander around. He’s a pretty magnificent animal all on his own. It’s also a draw to have a tiger as well as a lion in the park.

A Heart for Felines


As you can tell, Mr. Reinke has a pretty big soft spot for cats, especially large ones like tigers and lions. Many consider him to be very brave for taking on the responsibility of these huge felines, when they’re known for destroying a human body in moments. Regardless of what they are capable of, Mr. Reinke loves helping animals and has dedicated his life to aiding them, just like he did with Tony and Bonedigger. 


It’s still impressive, considering most people would never be brave enough to snuggle up to a lion and then walk away to tell the tale. He’s always been fond of pets and while these may be more exotic than your average cat, they’re right up Mr. Reinke’s alley. He’s in his element when he has more cats to look after, like the ones you’re about to see.

Meet Tippy

Bonedigger and Tony may be the longstanding resident big cats for the animal park, but that doesn’t mean that Mr. Reinke doesn’t help any other animals. In fact, there were recently some adorable tigers brought in. They need special care and feeding since they’re still small and so, the generous man has happily jumped in to look after the tiger cubs. The one in the photo here is named Tippy. 


Cubs may be smaller versions of the grown species, but they’re still considerably larger than a normal housecat and it makes sense that they make people nervous. For this farm family, however, tiger cubs are just another fun part of working here. And Mr. Reinke isn’t the only one who gets involved in raising these adorable cubs, as you’ll soon see. But first, let’s check out who Tippy brought with him when he arrived.

Tippy’s Baby Brother

Tippy was far from alone when he arrived at G.W. Exotic Animal Park. He had his little brother, Orlando, with him and the two play and fight together just like any other siblings. They may be a little crazy at this age, but they’ll learn to be calmer and Mr. Reinke is hoping that they’ll be great friends with Milo and the other Dachshunds like him. 


He wants to see the special bond last even after Bonedigger is gone, since he’ll likely die sooner with his health problems. Tippy and Orlando will ease the pain for the humans and hopefully for the dogs, too, when that happens. For now, they provide fun antics and entertainment for Mr. Reinke and his beautiful wife, who we will be meeting next, so read on.

Meet Mrs. Reinke

Kristi Reinke is Mr. Reinke’s wife and she is just as interested in animals as her sweet husband. They are a couple with a passion for helping animals and especially wild animals. Kristi helps her husband with the baby tiger cubs on a regular basis and knows how important it is for them to grow up well. 


She helps feed the cubs and she loves Bonedigger, Tony, Milo, and all the other creatures that live on the animal farm just as much as her husband. In fact, she’s a big part of the whole process of training and raising the animals, since it’s a lot of work for just one man to do. And they didn’t stop with a few tigers and a lion, oh no. This family has expanded drastically recently.

Living the Dream

Mr. and Mrs. Reinke just need to add a bear and they practically have the Jungle Book in their home. Imagine what fun it would be to wake up in the morning and find two tiger cubs jumping on you? But they have other animals too, like this monkey shown in the photo. Clearly, the couple just loves animals of all kinds and they’re willing to open the hearts to all of them. 


That’s pretty adorable and it really goes to show that the family is one that will treasure these creatures forever. But they’re not keeping the creatures to themselves. Oh no, they are spreading the enjoyment of hanging out with Tony, Bonedigger, Milo, Orlando, and Tippy with even more family members! Let’s take a look at who else is helping out around the park.

The Reinke Nephews

You might think your uncle is cool, but is he as cool as Mr. Reinke? He lets his nephews hang out with baby tigers and help feed and care for the many animals he’s rescued over the years. That’s a pretty cool way to spend your vacation! Not only do they get to have fun and a really unique experience that very few kids can boast of having, they also learn all about animals and how to care for them. 


That is invaluable education all on its own. The boys say their favorite thing to do is head to the animal farm and play with the tigers. Honestly, who wouldn’t want to do that? It sounds like more fun than chilling with video games or friends on a normal weekend!

Photo Ops

Most wild animals shy away from cameras, but if you head to the animal park, you’ll find that you can get some excellent shots of the animals. Tippy and Orlando, the tiger cub brothers, are actually pretty fond of photos and they will happily pose for the camera. They have a blast being the center of attention and so it’s no surprise that photos of them abound. 


It’s one of the highlights for the Reinke nephews when they come over. They can get plenty of selfies with these two cute critters. No one else has that kind of photo on their Instagram! Chances are, you could get a lot more followers with a couple of adorable tiger brothers on your own social media. These two cubs are so playful and fun that they draw attention from anyone visiting the park.

Sibling Rivalry

As you can see from this photo, Orlando never has a chance with his big brother, Tippy, in charge. Tippy isn’t going to let him forget who is the bigger brother. Despite the dire look of the image, the two cubs are always rolling around and attacking each other, just like two cute kittens. They may be considerably larger than a regular kitten, or even a regular housecat, but they are just as playful and fun-loving. 


It’s always entertaining to watch these two siblings jump and play with each other. Soon they’ll be much bigger and will be able to play with the older cats, too. While they’re tiny and easy to pick up now, they’ll eventually be too big for the nephews to carry around. That’s when they’ll be hanging out with the older cats, Tony and Bonedigger.


Living Life

As you can see, this is one animal park where the animals are having a lot of fun, as are the humans! Bonedigger and Milo enjoy their unique relationship and will until one of them is no longer with us, but the other dogs also have a blast hanging out with their lion pal. The human members of the farm also enjoy spending time together and with their animals. 


The animal park is basically just a massive family with members that are from all different species. It gradually grows as they take in more animals that need to be looked after. Who would have ever guessed that such a unique bunch of creatures would end up being best friends? No one could have anticipated that Bonedigger would be such a great pal with a little dog, but there you have it!

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