Dogs are man’s best friend. They are known to be loyal and loving, and sometimes they extend this towards members of other species as well. For instance, take the pooch in this story. Pancake the dog has been an important part of an elephant sanctuary in Thailand ever since she was rescued as a stray three years ago.
“She was a stray on the beach who was picked on by other dogs,” Katherine Connor, founder, and CEO of Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary (BLES) said. When someone from the sanctuary found Pancake, she asked Connor if she would take the dog. “Of course I said yes!” Connor said. “Pancake has been my shadow ever since.”
The people and animals at BLES are accustomed to the arrivals and departures that happen there. The sanctuary gives a special focus on caring for elderly elephants after they can no longer work. A few years ago, an elderly elephant named Sao Noi was on the verge of passing away. Meanwhile, her friend, another elephant named Boon Thong, kept stroking her with her trunk to comfort her.
Two years after that, Boon Thong’s own time arrived. She had individuals who were there by her side every moment, the way she had been for Sao Noi. When Pancake realized Boon Thong wasn’t feeling too good, she rushed to be with her. Pancake is not an elephant, but she did enjoy her time at the sanctuary. All the animals there shared a bond of being rescued, and Pancake must have felt that too.
Pancake and Connor both gave company to Boon Thong for hours during her last days. Boon Thon was in her 60s, and she lived the last five years of her life at the sanctuary after being rescued from a riding camp, where she had to give rides to tourists.
“She was used to carrying tourists on her back for hours on end and after doing this for almost 30 years, she nearly broke her back,” Connor explained. By the time Boon Thong arrived at the sanctuary five years ago, she was completely worn out.
After arriving there, Boon Thong learned just how different the sanctuary was from the life she was used to. At the sanctuary she was finally able to be herself and to truly experience life as an elephant—something that she hadn’t done before.
“She was free to be in control of her own life, to make her own decisions, to express herself,” Connor wrote in a tribute. “Boon Thong was a creature of habit. She had her favorite spots in our release areas that she would always gravitate to during our daily walks. She always scratched on the same tree and she always stopped at the same spot in the stream to throw mud all over herself.”
Boon Thong must have wished she could live at the sanctuary for a little longer. Sadly, her time had come. Connor and Pancake sat with Boon Thong for nine hours while she passed away.
“Pancake, with that beautiful heart of hers, did not leave Katherine or Boon Thong once,” BLES wrote on Facebook. “She knew she was needed, to offer support and she quietly lay beside Boon Thong, until sunset — until the final breath.” Boon Thong’s body was buried on the sanctuary grounds, surrounded by fruit and flower offerings. She can finally be with her friends and loved ones now, including Sao Noi.
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