Flora and Dexter shared a special relationship. They spent every moment together. But when the 22-year-old Dexter passed away, Flora was heartbroken and her owners were afraid for her life as she refused to eat anymore.

However what makes this love story so unique was actually their incredible and unlikely friendship. Flora is a 100-pound malamute and Dexter was a little 20-year-old cat when they met. Dexter was a senior dog when Jill Williams and her family adopted him from Best Friends Animal Society, the same rescue that brought Flora into their lives.

“Flora was adopted by our family in 2013 from Best Friends Animal Society after I saw her picture on a Facebook post,” Williams, who also works at the organization, said. Though the Williams already had a house full of pets, and they weren’t looking to adopt, something about Flora’s face just grabbed her attention. “I could not stop smiling when I saw her.”

Hesitant and unsure at first, Flora became soon after the heart of the family. Flora is a “sweet, smiley marshmallow of a dog.” All of the dogs and cats in the home look up to her as a matriarch. “She is larger than life, in both stature and good nature. Sometimes I think, ‘She can’t be a real dog! She’s just so special and soulful,’” says Williams.

As about Dexter, he came into their lives in a similar fashion. However, what the Williams never thought was how Flora will welcome the tiny cat.

“We were pretty sure that if we took in a homeless cat, even temporarily, we’d need to keep them separated,” she says. “We had no clue how our dogs would receive a feline family member.”

“How am I going to bring home a 20-year-old cat who looks like he already fulfilled his nine lives?” Williams thought. But Dexter was persuasive. He meowed and wove through her legs and put his paw on her lap when she knelt down. It was clearly meant to be.

A sweet, mellow, velcro cat, when Dexter met Flora for the first time, their bond was instantaneous. “It was like Dexter said, ‘Oh hey, you are super fluffy and really warm. Mind if I curl right up here with you?’” They spent all their day and nights together, napping and snuggling.

Unfortunately, two years later, Dexter passes away and the whole family was devastated, but especially Flora. “She would stay outside and howl,” says Williams. “It made us very sad.”

So, the Williams decided to foster kittens who would have a place to live until they were old enough to be spayed or neutered and then adopted.

“This would free up room in the kitten nursery for more at-risk kitties, and it would also teach my boys a lot about responsibility, not just in the caring, feeding and socializing aspect, but why it’s important to spay/neuter to prevent a whole lot of kittens — in the most PG-rated version of things,” says Williams.

So next day, the family welcomed Iggy, Bowie, Roxie and Glamour. And they were as playful and curious as some 10-week-old kittens can be.  “We asked the foster coordinator if we should allow them to meet our cat-friendly pooch, knowing that exposure and acceptance to dogs can up the chance of a kitten getting adopted.”

So it was about the time for Flora to meet the newest members of the family. The kittens walked right up to the big dog. “They were so curious and brave,” says Williams. “They walked right up to her like ‘oh hi!’”

Flora sniffed every one of them, and then started to lick their tiny heads. Iggy, the male Snowshoe Siamese, was smitten. “Flora was happy,” says Williams. “She lay down and got very relaxed and smiley.”  Eventually, the kittens all got adopted.