Stompy and May, and maybe toiletcat. Mildred isn’t too bad either, though her friendliness is expressed mostly through pecking.
But you probably didn’t mean friendly to me, right?
The answer is ‘domesticated animals that know you and/or think of you as part of their pack’. I don’t think it matters which type it is, provided it has had it’s agency removed, and been taught to think of you as a friend. This is cynical, and makes me feel kind of horrible, but I suspect it’s a truth.
I am conflicted about animals. I love the animals that not only consider me a part of their pack, but I consider them a part of mine. I don’t feed Mildred, comfort toiletcat, cuddle May or play with Stompy out of obligation, or even as a favour to their respective owners. I do it all because I think they are wonderful, beautiful creatures. They make me happy. They are part of my life and I love them.
I have no idea how they feel about me, but they certainly give the impression that they feel somewhat the same, at least as much as they are capable of.
But. Well. Domesticated animals have reduced agency. They are not in a position to make friends (or do many thinks) by their own choices. When I met Stompy, and took him for his first walk, he had no choice in the matter. I had to tie a rope to him to keep in with me, and the fact that he blatantly wanted to get out was probably more due to his being stuck indoors than him wanting to go on an adventure with me.
Of course, we did adventure together. And we’ve done it many times since. And when I say hello, he always seems happy to see me.
It’s impossible to communicate with animals on a meaningful level. It’s impossible to know at all what they are feeling, what they think of you. Every statement I’ve made in this piece has been a guess. There’s a similar problem in human communication, but we have shared language and frames of reference, so we can be fairly certain that we’re roughly close to the mark. We might not be, but everything functions well enough for us to assume something is working. There must be some common ground for a civilisation of this magnitude to exist, even if that common ground may be monstrously distorted.
But can we make the same leap to an animal mind? Can we know what it is like to be low to the ground and wrapped in the scent of the world? Do I know what Stompy thinks when he looks at me? Does he see a source of food and entertainment and exercise? A pattern of behaviour? Or a person. An entity like him, in a way.
I have no idea. But I love him anyway.
So maybe I’m the most friendly?
Not bloody likely.
Illustration by Henry