What do a Swiss freestyle skier and a Yosemite park ranger have in common? Pets, of course.


Given the current state of the world, social media has been a bit of a mixed bag these days. (Although, when is that not the case, right?) It’s one of the reasons I love the endless stream of fuzzy and feathered fabulousness pouring out of Best Friends’ social media channels every day and those of our lifesaving partners around the country.

But I’ve noticed a couple things on Instagram recently, unrelated to our animal sheltering world, that made me smile and further reinforced my belief that pets, like music, can serve as a common bond and reveal more similarities among us than differences.

If you haven’t been following the Olympics on Instagram, you really should. Because watching Olympic athletes do their COVID-19 stay-at-home workouts is like watching daily highlights from Cirque du Soleil. Last weekend, there was a resharing of a post from a Swiss freestyle skier named Andri Ragettli, whose extreme home workouts at his parents’ house have been drawing major media attention. It’s easier for you to just watch what he does in the video than it is for me to explain it. But it involves a full glass of water, a book held between his toes and a volleyball-style back roll.

However, one element in the video makes the moment truly great. It’s Andri’s cat, Simba, in the background watching him perform this feat, flicking her tail in her cat bed and appearing to be entirely unimpressed with his shenanigans. Andri even noted, “Simba was not impressed,” and several of the hundreds of comments from viewers are about how hilarious the cat’s “couldn’t care less attitude” is. Watching this remarkable athletic feat unfold, one woman said, “The best part is the cat in the bed.”

And that’s just it. Pets make everything better, no matter how amazing what you’re already doing is.

The same day that video was shared, Yosemite National Park shared a video on their social media channels of a park ranger named Kate giving a lesson on amphibians and reptiles to kids. And who was there by her side in the woods as she talked? Her canine sidekick, Superintendent. Because you know what makes a lesson about the creatures who live in Yosemite even better? A dog!

Dogs and cats have become such bright, consistent threads in the daily fabric of our lives that it’s easy to overlook just how much color and vibrance they add to everything.

Stop and think about when you pass people on the street while you’re out walking by yourself versus when you’re out walking with your dog. How often does your dog (or someone else’s dog) spark up a brief conversation, or even just a mutual smile or hello, between you and a complete stranger because that dog is there? I even had someone tell me a story about ending up joining a book club with people she’d never met after realizing that both she and the woman sitting next to her in a coffee shop had similar photos of their cats as the display image on their phones.

Pets create common ground. They start conversations and open new avenues we never realized were there. They add energy and character to a room. And they make our social media feeds so much better.

Today, the first-ever virtual Best Friends Super Adoption is kicking off with animal welfare partners and adoptable pets from all across the country. If you know someone who might need a little cat or dog color in their life, make sure to let them know. Especially if that someone needs a calm, impartial coach to keep them humble. Cats are great for that.

Julie Castle


Best Friends Animal Society