Stories and books about unlikely animal bonds can teach children - and adults - about friendships and the circle of life:
In a new memoir "The Legacy of Beezer and Boomer: Lessons on Living and Dying from my Canine Brothers" (B Brothers Press), Doug Koktavy writes, "My guides in life came in the form of two 85-pound sibling Labrador retrievers."
By caring for his terminally ill pets, he learned that it's OK to talk about death.
"Such a discussion does not mean you are quitting on your loved one," he writes. "Neither are you quitting on your pet. Death is a natural part of life."
John Grogan began writing his book "Marley and Me: Life and Love With the World's Worst Dog" (Harper Paperbacks) about a month after his dog died.
There's lots to learn from dogs, Grogan agrees - lessons on how to lead happier, more fulfilling lives and how to have successful relationships. He also has written several children's "I Can Read Books" about Marley, including "Marley and the Kittens" and "Marley and the Runaway Pumpkin"
Relationships to cherish
Check out YouTube for heart-melting videos of unlikely friendships between animals:
A dog and a dolphin swimming together off the coast of Ireland. A golden retriever adopting three baby white tigers at a zoo in Kansas. A black lab at an animal shelter in Iowa feeding and nurturing kittens from three different litters. A motherless puppy being nursed by a cat, right along with her own litter of kittens. A baby duck snuggling with sleepy puppies.
A story that has gotten 3.8 million hits on YouTube is about a stray dog, Bella, who finds a home at the Elephant Sanctuary outside Nashville, Tenn., with an elephant, Tarra.
"They harbor no fears, no secrets, no prejudices," says reporter Steve Hartman on a CBS News "Assignment America" segment. "They manage to look past their immense differences. Take a good look, America. If they can do it, what is our excuse?"
In a follow-up of the story on CBS News, the reporter said: "Look to them the next time you feel there is just no good in this world."
Carol Buckley wrote a book about the relationship between the dog and the elephant called "Tarra & Bella: The Elephant and Dog Who Became Best Friends" (Putnam Juvenile). It's geared to ages 4 to 8.