There’s nothing more wholesome than an animal friendship that spans species. 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. Their friendship has lasted almost a decade.
Back in June, Twitter user @_woollyback posted a tweet that read “sorry to interrupt, important news.” The important news? A photo of Gunner leaning over the water to give Delta a big lick to the side of his snout. As one might expect from the power of Dog + Dolphin Friends, the photo was an instant success, with 1.2 million likes and over 228,000 retweets so far. Marie Blanton, a senior trainer at the center and Gunner’s mom said:” I’ve been a trainer at DRC for almost 10 years so I would bring him with me to work when he was really little. I wanted to expose him to all types of people and other animals. 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. 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. 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. As both boys have gotten a bit older, they don’t get to see each other quite as much now.” Gunner only accompanies Blanton 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.
In response to the photo’s first round of viral fame, the Dolphin Research Center posted photos of Gunner and Delta meeting as an 8-week-old pup and a 4-year-old, well, dolphin, along with an updated photo of them together in 2020. Their unexpected friendship has completely melted everyone’s hearts, and people are extra smitten by the fact that they like to give each other little kisses. Delta presents his pointy little nose for some puppy kisses, and Gunner happily licks his best friend and shows how much he loves this strange-looking water-puppy.