Best friends at Best Friends: Pancake and Ron Swanson

Ron Swanson and Pancake the dogs, on an agility platform, both smiling
Meet one of our favorite odd couples: two dogs known affectionately as “Roncake.”
By Sarah Thornton

Ron Swanson from NBC’s Parks and Recreation is famously known for his love of breakfast food. And one scruffy little fellow here at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary certainly seems to have that in common with his namesake; his best friend is named Pancake, after all.

Ron Swanson (the dog) and Pancake met because, unlike the gruff and straightforward television character, Ron was shy and unsure around people when he arrived at the Sanctuary. As a puppy, he hadn’t had much, if any, interaction with people. So he didn’t like being touched and would shy away from anyone who came near (unless they were offering an especially yummy treat — and even then he’d take it and leave). He wasn’t comfortable with a harness or leash, and crates were a little scary, so moving him around was tricky. Even car rides were difficult for him.

But often, the best guide for showing a shy dog like Ron the ropes is a confident canine companion. Enter: Pancake, his new, fearless little role model.

The unstoppable Pancake

Pancake adores her friends, meets other dogs easily, and has confidence in abundance. And caregivers were sure that some of that excess confidence would rub off on Ron.

“Pancake is a very ‘nothing can stop me’ (kind of) dog,” says Janna Kruse, one of Ron and Pancake’s caregivers. “While Ron was more ‘everything can stop me.’” In other words, it was an excellent match.

[A most joyful doggy duo]

Pancake welcomed Ron Swanson to her yard without a fuss, and from that moment on, he followed her lead in everything. If she says it’s time to run around the yard, it’s time to run around the yard. If she wants to play, they play.

And when Pancake wants to snuggle up to her human friends, Ron is happy to let her be the center of attention — though seeing her cuddle and play with caregivers did convince him it was OK to get a little closer and maybe accept an ear scratch or two.

Ron finds new confidence

The way Pancake took on the world like it was hers showed Ron that, hey, maybe he could start enjoying it, too. They became an extrovert-introvert friend couple, with Pancake always excited to go on adventures like car rides, walks, and other trips around the canyon and Ron following along because he wanted to spend time with his friend. With a force of nature like Pancake backing him up, Ron didn’t have anything to be afraid of anymore.

“He comes inside now; he gets excited about dinner time,” Janna says. “And, of course, he’s super excited to go on his walks.”

These days, though Ron Swanson still prefers to do everything with his breakfast buddy, depending on the activity, he can sometimes be convinced to head out on his own if Pancake is doing too much lollygagging.

[Animal friends at Best Friends]

If he’s raring to go on a walk or to the dog park (his favorite place to be), and Pancake is taking too long to get leashed up, he’ll turn around and march right out ahead of her.

Ron Swanson may never be the bubbly, confident sort of dog that Pancake is, but their friendship has opened a whole new world of possibilities for him. And Pancake’s smile is proof that she thinks he’s pretty neat, too.

Sanctuary Dog