A recent story in the Metro UK about a Polish goose named Buttons who has become a caretaker to a blind dog named Baks reminded me of all of those other similar stories of animals adopting other animals. Buttons has decided that Baks will live, live!, and leads Baks around their shared yard, either by using her long neck to guide the dog or by honking in the direction Baks should walk.
This little bit of awesomeness reminded me of the debate over whether animals can display high-level behaviors like altruism, since such actions are thought to originate from types of self-conscious emotions that the predominant quarters of evolutionary science believe only humans and perhaps only a handful of intelligent animals possess. This debate has always surprised me, and I tend to think that it's a matter of time before some incontrovertible evidence is uncovered that shows animals do indeed experience emotions similar to humans and are self-aware. Perhaps some sort of animal language translation device will provide the key. I predict, though, that rather than animals being raised to a human level, the revelation of animal self-awareness will draw out the awareness that humans are animals too. This will help us get around a lot of potential problems with animals who experience life on a similar level as us, like not being able to eat them.
In the meantime, I've spent the last half hour on an Internet hunt for videos altruistic animals. I ended up in places like a blog on Woman's Day which has ten such videos posted. It's worth a watch, although playing all ten at once really slows down your computer, be forewarned. I made it to the Mental Floss blog which has a post called 6 Other Animals Dogs Will Adopt and found a spread on a Dachshund that adopted a baby piglet. I've posted below my all-time favorite, Ellie, the Cavalier King Charles spaniel who adopted baby rabbits after they were orphaned near her family's home. Internet hunt! [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KidaY9JtYrc&w=610]