The particulars of dog friendship
If dogs are man's best friend, then who is dogs' best friend? Oh, that's right, it must be us. In that case, who is dogs' second best friend? And to that I answer, another dog.
Dog friendship is a wonderful thing. It can start in a second, as two dogs read each other's posture, sniff each other's heritage, and then launch into what could become a lifetime of games without boundaries and furious folies a deux. Or it could take a little more care and time, a little more posture-reading and ancestry-sniffing.
You can tell that Riley and Vinnie are friends. Who else would share a catwalk so generously?
Brodie and Solly are assistant branch managers.
The best game two dog friends can play is chase: a few moments of mock pursuit, followed by that exquisite crash and roll that they're pretending to avoid. Keiser and Fly are exponents.
On a pack walk, dogs become each other's sentinel and lieutenant. On the left are Monty and Elsie, on the right are Cody and Bella.
Ah, the mouthing. It's a deep part of dog instinct and dog society, involving taste and restraint as well as sheer joy. It is often accompanied by a vocal expression that I can best transcribe as ung ung ung, which I suppose is dog for om nom nom.
Smudge gets ready to receive the serve, while Jessie covers the net.
There are no breed boundaries to dog friendship: Chance and Ben are happy playmates.
Friendship always has that hint of competitiveness, doesn't it? As Jack and Charlie lope across the sand, ownership of that red ball is never far from their thoughts.
Syd and Sam scan the horizon (left) while Grub and Jim take the waters.
The start of a beautiful friendship? Shy young Aloysius has just met the terribly interesting and dauntingly sophisticated Otis.
Friends stand up for each other's rights, including the pressing right to have a treat, please. These patient faces belong to Scooter and Rosie.
Travelling companions: Tess and Sam.
Bedfellows: Snazzy and Spike.
Do I get a hug? Benji and big Zarn.
Sun worshippers: Hoshi and Monty.
Best mates: Rosco and Vader take a break during a big, breathy, Boxery game.
Jack and Rosie have each other's back.
Buster and Madison like to hang together (left); the late Hammy and Percy give meaning to the word "bask".
Friendship is enhanced when enough sleeping room is provided for all. (I don't have a record of these dogs' names, so if they're yours, let us know.)
Boo and Sprout are in this together (left); Dibble and Puku work as a team.
Cody and Princess snuggle (left). Missy and Riley show that you have to stick together through the hard times, such as bathtime and that period afterwards when you just can't wait to get dry.
Audrey and Arya have equal pull in their house, and they make sure to contribute exactly 50 per cent each to the total amount of mess.
Finally, friends back each other up in the strange times, those times when mum wants to doll you up. In this case, Hugo and Minnie are dressed up to collect money for Parkinson's NZ; the costumes refer to Muhammad Ali's phrase, "float like a butterfly, sting like a bee". So Hugo and Minnie float and sting every year for the cause, and show their friendship not just for each other but for us humans.