There's nothing more wholesome than an animal friendship that spans species.
Except maybe one that's also spanned almost a decade.
Gunner, 8, and Delta, 10, a golden retriever and a dolphin, met at Florida's Dolphin Research Center eight years ago, and have been best buds ever since.
Marie Blanton, a senior trainer at the center and Gunner's mom, said trainers work to build relationships with dolphins and to get to know them as individuals. As such, she wanted to expose them to as many different things as possible — including her then new, 8-week-old puppy who would accompany her to work every day.
"When [Gunner] first went on the docks, I was expecting him to bark, or get really excited, but he did the exact opposite: He just laid down and watched," Blanton said. Apparently, this calm demeanor intrigued Delta, then 4, who Blanton describes as "very friendly, playful, and curious."
"I started to notice that every time I would bring Gunner down, Delta was the first dolphin over to the dock. He would bring him his toys as if he was trying to play with him," she said.
And indeed, Gunner took the bait, quickly learning to play with Delta by grabbing at the toys he was being presented with.
"The friendship just blossomed over time," she said. "As both boys have gotten a bit older, they don't get to see each other quite as much now," she said, as Gunner only accompanies her to work a few times a month now.
Despite not seeing each other as often as they might like, Blanton insists that they recognize each other straightaway, and that Delta is still always the first dolphin to come say hello.