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The owl and the . . . greyhound puppy!
12:53pm Thursday 21st August 2008 in News
THEY enjoy long cuddles on the sofa, and their favourite programmes are Coronation Street and EastEnders.
It sounds like a very normal relationship - but one half is a dog and one is an owl.
Welcome to the cosy life of Hampshire's oddest couple.
Six-month-old greyhound Torque adopted tiny baby owl Shrek at a Hampshire animal centre when she was taken from her mother for her own protection aged three days.
Keepers feared Shrek's mother would eat her first clutch if she became stressed at the sight of predators.
Adoptive dad Torque is now guarding the rare long-eared owl at the home of head falconer John Picton, where they spend their evenings together watching EastEnders and Coronation Street.
Shrek is free to roam the lounge as she strengthens her legs and often snuggles up to Torque on the sofa.
Outdoors at the Ringwood Raptor and Reptile Centre, they often sit together, with the greyhound guarding his feathered friend.
Their friendship started slowly as John introduced the unlikely pair gradually - first by feeding three-inch-high Shrek her meals of marsh rats and quail in the same room, and then holding them close so Torque could smell her.
Tamed Shrek will be used as a display owl at fetes and open days and John believes her interaction with dogs and humans from an early age is ideal training He said: "Their relationship is so unusual but also rather sweet.
"Torque seems to have adopted Shrek as his daughter and is now very protective. He follows her around at home and keeps his eye on her.
"They play with each other in the evenings while I'm watching television and it is an opportunity for Shrek to wander and strengthen her legs.
"I was a little wary of introducing them to start with but I now trust Torque 100 per cent.
"Because he is only a puppy he didn't feel so threatened by a new animal joining his pack.
"Shrek is doing well and becoming used to human and animal contact. I'm sure that will be beneficial when she is taken to shows because nothing will phase her."
Shrek was the first of four chicks born to her mother, and was taken away because it was thought she had the highest chance of survival.
The second chick is still with his mother and his chances of survival are growing each day.