This dog and cheetah are best friends and it is the best thing

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What's more fun than watching a cheetah romp around in freshly fallen snow? Watching a cheetah romp around in freshly fallen snow with her best friend WHO ALSO HAPPENS TO BE A DOG. Oh wow, am I seriously tearing up right now?

This footage was shot at the Cincinnati Zoo's "cheetah yard," where Savanna the Cheetah and Max the dog have grown up playing together. Savannah was born at the zoo last June. She and Max have been playpals since September 2012, when they met in the yard for the first time:

"The two will grow up together as Max provides a fun play partner," wrote the zoo when this video was posted last year. "Dogs and cheetahs are very similar, the two will bond and as the two of them grow up they will be friends."


Judging from the video up top, the two have become pretty close in the last year and a half. Believe it or not, it's very common for zoos to pair cheetahs and dogs, and has been for years. Writing for Cesar's Way, Nicole Pajer describes the San Diego Zoo's "Animal Ambassador" program thusly:

The pairing process occurs with the matching of a three-month-old cheetah and a six-month-old dog. Zoologists look for shelter dogs that have a good disposition and a naturally calm demeanor when selecting cheetah companions. The first step is to very slowly make an introduction, allowing the dog and cheetah to look at and smell each other through a partition in adjacent habitats. Next, they are given the opportunity for brief supervised visits where handlers allow them to sniff and investigate each other. "Pretty soon, when someone throws a ball, they both go after it and when the people go home for the night, the cheetah gets to cuddle up to his big ball of fur friend and use him like a pillow," says senior animal trainer, Carlee Westbrook. The dog keeps the cheetah calm and relaxed and the cheetah provides companionship for the dog. It's a win-win situation.


Plus, we all get to lose our composure over a cross-species companionship that puts the fox and the hound to shame. That's a win-win-win situation, as far as I'm concerned.

[The Cincinnati Zoo via Laughing Squid]