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Bill Foundation
Dearheart and Arnold, shown happily snuggling, quickly became fast friends.
updated 1/6/2012 2:06:17 PM ET 2012-01-06T19:06:17

They lost their home, and simply left him behind. When the moving trucks drove away, there Arnold was. For almost a month the pit bull wandered his neighborhood streets and deserted home looking for them while slowly starving. He was finally brought to the Bill Foundation —which takes in dogs from Los Angeles county shelters to place in permanent homes — by a concerned neighbor, but he was already severely traumatized and sad.

He did not know how to ride in a car or use stairs. He was afraid of everything except kind people. He trembled with fear all the time. He did not seek affection or know how to enjoy it. Although terribly skinny, he was too frightened to eat without great coaxing. He did not know how to be in a house, or how to relax and feel safe. He didn’t know when he was going to be left alone again and that terrified him. The first time his foster mom left him alone he went into a state of panic and terror and tore the drywall off the hallway.

He was so frightened by his experience that being left anywhere has become too scary for him and he began actually hurting himself in an effort to escape crates and kennels. He seemed determined to escape to get back to his family. For days on end he paced and looked out windows, as if he had lost them and they might actually be worried and searching for him.

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Bill Foundation tried everything to make Arnold feel brave and safe. He received much-needed love from volunteers and his foster mom, including help from experts. But Arnold stayed scared and anxious — a gentle boy, but one who wanted to escape, one who always shook with fear and looked so dejected.

Then along came Dearheart, who is four pounds of fabulous. Frightened and uncertain, the diminutive Chihuahua was saved from death row by the Bill Foundation. He was brought into a foster home to help with socialization and confidence building. It just so happened that this foster home was also Arnold’s, and when the two met, they became fast friends.

Debbie Zeitman
Arnold was brought to the Bill Foundation by a concerned neighbor after being found wandering the streets.

In very short time, it became apparent that this was a rescue that was meant to play out exactly as it did. Apart, they are two wonderfully sweet dogs that are a little bit shy and scared by the rough knocks the world has delivered them. But together, Arnold and Dearheart are transformed.

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Previously, if Arnold was in a crate at adoption events he would shiver, whimper and cry. Now Arnold and Dearheart share a crate and a life together, leaning on each other for support, and snuggling in peaceful bliss. Arnold clearly feels safer in the presence of his new pal, and their caretakers say both dogs have been changed forever by their partnership.

If you want to take Arnold for a walk, they say all you have to do is pick up Dearheart and start moving. Arnold will follow closely, hopping on his hind legs to keep an eye on his buddy as he is carried. When Arnold rolls over in his sleep, Dearheart picks himself up and daintily maneuvers around Arnold’s paws, so he can adjust and nuzzle up to the velvety soft nose of his big best friend. Day in and day out, the two while away their time together as they wait for a forever home.

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The Bill Foundation has made it abundantly clear that the dogs — both in need of adoption, together — will not be separated under any circumstances, saying, “it’s our duty to keep these two special boys where they belong — side by side, just as destiny has decided.”

This article originally appeared on Life with Dogs. For more information, please visit their website  or Facebook page.

© 2012 MSNBC Interactive.  Reprints

Photos: Friend with a foe: Uncommon animal pairings

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  1. Lose a lover, gain a friend?

    The book “Unlikely Friendships: 47 Remarkable Stories from the Animal Kingdom” by Jennifer Holland, a science writer for National Geographic, depicts shared affections between disparate creatures in sometimes quite odd (a golden retriever and a goldfish?) pairings.

    Do their instincts drive them together? The author explores the science behind the 47 interspecies bonds, and tells the tales, of say, how a lion, tiger and bear (oh my!) became buds – and what do they do for fun anyway?

    Seen here on the book cover, an orphaned rhesus monkey and white dove that seemed to have lost its mate forged a special bond at the Neilingding Island-Futian National Nature Reserve in China. The monkey was born on the island but had strayed from its mother. Luckily, it was taken in by work staff in the protection center and became friends with the pigeon that had lingered there after possibly losing its mate. (CNImaging/Photoshot) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Cat lady

    It’s not clear why or when this stray black cat turned up in the bear enclosure at the Berlin Zoo. But something is clear: She’s been coming back for 10 years to see her friend, the oldest known female Asiatic bear. (EPA/Alexander Ruesche) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Friend with a foe

    Anatolian shepherds keep cheetahs away from livestock in Africa. But at the San Diego Zoo, the former foes are paired because the calm dog makes a good friend to the nervous cat. (Ken Bohn / Zoological Society of San Diego) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Modern family

    Chicks perch on a Siamese-snowshoe cat, who keeps the little ones in a line with her nose, and a pit bull, who is a loving father figure to many animals on their Texas farm. (Helen J. Arnold) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Make new friends…and the other’s gold

    A big goldfish, or koi, named Falstaff swims over to the pond’s edge for another meeting with a golden retriever named Chino in a backyard pond in Oregon. (Bob Pennell/Mail Tribune) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Birds of a (different) feather…

    An orphaned Madagascar teal duckling snuggles under orphaned kookaburra (a predator to the former). (Solentnew.co.uk) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. A friend in need…

    A young elephant, who lost his mama, cozies up to his comforting sheep pal at the Shamwari Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in South Africa. (Rex USA) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Oh my!

    A lion and tiger and bear hang out at their “clubhouse” at Noah’s Ark Animal Rehabilitation Center in Locust Grove, Georgia. (Barcroft via Fame Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Got your back

    A cockatoo named Coco throws her whole body into a backrub for cohabiting friend, house tabby Lucky, in Savannah, Georgia. (CNImaging/Photoshot) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Growing up together

    It’s naptime for an orangutan baby and a tiger cub, hand-reared as siblings at the Taman Safari Zoo in Indonesia. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. The author

    Jennifer Holland is a senior writer for National Geographic magazine, specializing in science and natural history. She lives in Silver Spring, Maryland, with her husband, two dogs, and dozens of snakes and geckos; none of whom, to her dismay, have crossed the species barrier to befriend the others. () Back to slideshow navigation
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