Ottie the wild otter finds a friend in golden retriever Chelsea

By Karen J. Quan
September 01, 2009 09:30 PM

You know that feeling when you meet a cool new pal – you want to know everything about them! The same applies to Chelsea, a 13-month-old golden retriever, and Ottie, an 18-month-old wild otter, two friends who were brought together by sheer curiosity.

Their story began in early 2008, when an adolescent Ottie (pronounced oo-tee) was struck by a car in St. Simons Island, Ga. After being treated at the Island Animal Hospital nearby, Ottie was cared for at what is now SOS Wildlife Resources by Nan Page, a rehabilitation director. Ottie made a speedy recovery in just 21 days, then was released back into the wild.

At the same time, Page invited a young Chelsea, who was suffering from a skin condition, into her home. She brought the little puppy to work with her, and the pup would play with other canines at the center. But on one particular day, Chelsea spotted Ottie at a nearby lagoon, and her curiosity kicked in.

“Chelsea,” Page tells PEOPLE Pets, “Was just drawn to the otter.”

Quite the snooper, Chelsea wanted to know more about Ottie, looking him up and down as if he was another dog. Why did he like the water, and why did he eat fish? Though Ottie was terrified of Chelsea at first, slowly but surely the two warmed up to one another.

Though the facility’s owners have two other dogs on site, Ottie seems to have grown attached to Chelsea. “It’s like a special bond,” Page says.

Often meeting at the water for playtime, Chelsea does her best to entertain her friend, sometimes bringing things like balls and sticks for Ottie to play with. But, according to Page, the toys are not a big attention-getter. “The otter would rather play with her than bring any toys into the water,” she says. “They’ll sit in the water and splash, and then do their own thing.”

See more unusual pairs on PEOPLE Pets:
Crazy Love? Wilma the Ostrich and Bea the Giraffe Become Unlikely BFFs
Best Buddies: Suryia the Orangutan & Roscoe the Hound!

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