This Couple Adopted a Cat to Help Their Dog with His Separation Anxiety—Now They Have the Most Beautiful Animal Friendship

Follow this unusual pair of furry friends as they explore the West.

dog and cat travel and adventure companionsCYNTHIA BENNETT
Baloo takes a hiking break with Henry’s help (left); but when the car door opens, they’re ready to embark on another adventure.

Hiking along a trail, you spy a young couple and their dog, and—wait a minute—is that a cat riding on the dog’s head? Meet Henry and Baloo, the surprising duo who have captured hearts with their scenic adventures out West. Pet parents Cynthia Bennett and Andre Sibilsky share the antics of this unusually bonded pair on social media—which includes 2 million Instagram followers—in part to support a mission dear to their hearts: preserving western wilderness and land for wildlife and future generations.

Henry, a rescue dog, came first. Cynthia and Andre wanted a high-energy pup that they could take on long hikes and camping expeditions from Colorado to California. With his playful air of confidence and active nature, Henry fit right in. The first time they took him hiking, he bounded up the boulders like a mountain goat. His favorite activities are hiking outdoors and exploring mountains. But he’s a big softie with severe separation anxiety, so eventually, Cynthia and Andre searched for a calm yet adventurous cat that could keep Henry company—and keep up with him on the trail.

Henry And Baloo sitting on a paddleboard on utah's colorado riverCYNTHIA BENNETT
Henry and Baloo ride along on a paddleboard adventure on Utah’s Colorado River.

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Enter Baloo. Rescued from a cat sanctuary after his mother abandoned the litter, the lovable and dependent Baloo bonded to Henry within hours. Henry, however, wasn’t so sure. Five days after Baloo arrived, the whole family went hiking, and Henry discovered that Baloo loved to explore as much as he did. Cynthia had already planned a camping trip with Henry to Telluride, Colorado, and took Baloo along. That, as they say, was the beginning of a beautiful, animal friendship.

“Telluride was such a memorable trip for us,” says Cynthia, “because that’s when Henry and Baloo truly bonded. Henry loves to explore the outdoors and camp with us, and Baloo stuck with him every step of the way. When I pulled Baloo out of the sleeping bag in the morning, Henry was so excited to see him.”

“HENRY LOVES TO EXPLORE THE OUTDOORS AND CAMP WITH US, AND BALOO STUCK WITH HIM EVERY STEP OF THE WAY.”

One day on the trail Baloo was tired, and on a whim, Cynthia placed Baloo on Henry’s neck. “Baloo just draped himself over Henry’s head and neck and hung there. And Henry didn’t mind at all.” How could you not take a photo of that?

Hundreds of photos later, Henry and Baloo are an Instagram sensation. They also have branded calendars, stickers, water bottles and a new book, Our Wild Tails: The Adventures of Henry and Baloo. “We hoped to do something that would make people smile and have a positive impact on others’ lives,” says Cynthia. “The book includes new photos and stories of Henry and Baloo’s first few months together. It was
important to us to convey the message that love is universal.”

Henry with Baloo and a pack on his back; Henry and Baloo cuddle in a sleeping bagCYNTHIA BENNETT
Henry packs on Baloo and his own gear; the pets steal a quick snooze on a backpacking trip to Colorado.

But the retail products aren’t only for fun. Cynthia and Andre started the Henry and Baloo Foundation, an official nonprofit organization with a mission to preserve 1,000 acres across the West and help reforest land that has been claimed by wildfires.

“Acres of natural land across the West have been sold off or are not protected,” says Cynthia. “Five percent of all our sales go to the foundation to help preserve the land for wildlife. We hike the land all the time, and it’s a way for us to give back to future generations.” They’ve also partnered with the nonprofit One Tree Planted to help with reforestation.

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Group selfie of Henry and Baloo with Cynthia and AndreCYNTHIA BENNETT

While Cynthia is busy capturing the duo on camera, Andre handles the research and administration of the foundation. “It’s amazing how these two rescue animals have changed our lives,” he said. Together, Cynthia and Andre hope that the adventures of Henry and Baloo will inspire others to discover, explore and cherish our country’s natural beauty.

If you have or know of a pet pair as cute as Henry and Baloo, we want to hear about it. Reader’s Digest is on the prowl for the most touching, adorable, or hilarious friendships involving a pet. Submit your story and photos (and video!) for consideration. We will honor the best in many categories of friendship online, in the magazine, and on social media.

Nominate your best pet pals!

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Originally Published in Country