Boys Will Be Boys

After spending a week away from each other, Shadow and Yeti have been quite brotherly this week. Although seeing Shadow go for Yeti’s jugular and watching Yeti get into kick-claw mode, I am learning to remember boys with be boys.

My veterinarian also assures me that this is normal puppy-kitten play. It’s important to let them figure out how to get along.

Here are a few tips I’ve learned from my own experience.

  • Allow puppies and kittens to have supervised play. Keeping a close eye on play times is important because it can quickly turn into a game of chase around your china cabinet.
  • Teach the command “Leave it” to your puppy. Not only is this an essential command for protecting your best leather sandals, but it’s key for assuring safe play. Oral play–even going for the jugular–is common for puppies. But, that doesn’t mean allowing  the puppy to have the upper-paw with kitty.
  • Accept that kitty will not learn “Leave it.” My kitty loves to instigate, but teaching a command like “Leave it” only makes him think it’s time to play-attack my leg. If kitty won’t stop pestering the puppy, it’s best to separate them for a while.
  • Make sure kitty is wearing a break-away collar. Puppy might think it is fun to drag kitty across the floor, and kitty may not mind. But, a break-away collar will ensure that puppy can’t accidentally choke kitty.
  • Keep kitty’s claws. Your puppy may have a war wound or two, but the natural feel of a claw on the snout will teach him to curb his enthusiastic play.
  • Let communication happen. A yelp or a meow tells each pet when enough is enough.
  • Keep crates nearby. It may be easiest to crate the puppy to keep the chasing to a minimum. But, having an open kitty crate nearby is also a good idea. My kitten sometimes climbs in his as a way to be near the puppy. It can be a good bonding experience.
  • Allow a communal drinking bowls. Play like exercise is hard work. Having a communal drinking bowl can be another bonding experience after a good romp.
  • Treats and praise for good behavior. Talk it up when your puppy listens to you and treat your kitty when he’s sweet to his furry pal.

All in all this playing is one of the best ways for pets to bond. It might even save a life. One night, Shadow’s effective Retriever tackle prevented Yeti from escaping the yard. So, let those puppies and kitties play, for boys will be boys.



No-Tiny Matter: The Inconsistent Lab Result

I should have known from my experience with Buddy and Buster that not all dogs within the same breed are created equal.

I should have trusted the personality descriptions posted on the Animal Humane Society’s website.

I could have saved myself six hours and almost $300.

Instead, we brought home Tiny.

And we brought him right back.

As I said in my previous post, when an adult dog takes off with a ball of yarn, clamps down harder when asked to release, requires two people to extract the yarn, and then the dog immediately pursues the cat, he is trying to tell you something.

We brought him right back, and he was just fine with that.

Tiny wasn’t a “bad” dog. He just wasn’t the right dog. At least, for us. He needs a home where he is the only pet with an assertive owner who will spend quality time on his training and help him with his nervous energy. Maybe my family could have been assertive and provided the training. But, there was no way we would give up or give in when it came to Zoe and Yeti, our resident Labrador Retriever and Ragdoll/Himalayan.

I hope Tiny would say we weren’t “bad” people. Just not the right people for him. He wants a home where all the toys are his, and he can get as many treats as he wants. He might find he has to compromise on that last one, but the first one could be a possibility if he learns to follow the rules.

Adopting a pet is no tiny matter. One Labrador Retriever is not every Labrador Retriever. A rescue Labrador Retriever is another breed entirely. Why? Because he or she has a history the future owner can never fully know.

As much as I knew about Doc before and after adopting, I will never know why he had a bare patch on his chest. I can guess. What I do know is Doc’s past made him the dog he was. We loved him for it.

I don’t know what will happen for Tiny. What I do know is that his six hours with us determined he is not compatible with other dogs or with cats. His previous owner may not have known that, but his future owner will. That knowledge just might save Tiny’s life.

I could have saved those six hours and almost $300 instead. But, I’m glad I didn’t.

That’s no tiny matter.

I think Tiny, who is no longer available for adoption, is just fine with that, too.


Reigning Cats and Dogs: How to rein resident pets in so they don’t rain on their own–or the new animal’s– parade

Let me answer this question of whether resident pets can accept a new pet right off the bat–I mean, cat.

Yes, they can.

But, that doesn’t mean we were cavalier about introducing Yeti to Doc and Zoe last December.

Of the two dogs, we were most concerned about Doc. Maybe it is because we have raised nine-year-old Zoe since she was a pup. She had already accepted Doc, a male two years older than herself. We have also seen her give up many a squirrel chase. When the squirrel dashes up a tree, she acts as if it has vanished. (This action fascinates us because both of us grew up with and owned beagles. But, that’s for another post.)

However, we had seen Doc pursue a cat that entered our campground once and almost succeeded in a capture.

Indeed, there was an initial mutual growl exchanged between then-three-month-old Yeti and eleven-year-old Doc. We limited their together-time for a few days and supervised all interactions. They were devoted comrades after that.

It was Yeti who kept us apprised of Doc’s worsening bone cancer. I watched as Yeti, stationed at the water bowls, licked Doc’s head when he bent to drink. But, when Zoe took her turn, Yeti stood at orderly attention. I assessed Doc myself and discovered he still had a temperature.

Zoe, as we predicted, tolerates Yeti. She isn’t aggressive with him, but gives him a grunt or a bark if she is annoyed with his pouncing. After Doc died, they shared a bond themselves. They missed their dear friend.

Zoe and Yeti Caught Cuddling
Zoe and Yeti caught cuddling.

It became my mission to find another dog that would not only become a best friend for our human family, but for our pet family as well.

Enter a 150-pound, three-year-old, Labrador Retriever-mix I will rename Tiny. Exit Tiny within six hours. Why? Believe me, this no-Tiny matter deserves its own post. For now, I will give this brief bit of advice. When an adult dog takes off with a ball of yarn, clamps down harder when asked to release, requires two people to extract the yarn, and then the dog immediately pursues the cat, he is trying to tell you something.

Enter Shadow, our three-month-old, over-thirty-pound, Labrador Retriever puppy.

Here is Shadow at 3 months, 7 days. He weighed in a few days before at 31 pounds.

Understandably, Zoe and Yeti are still a bit skeptical even in their reluctant acceptance. So how is it going?

Not to be outdone, Zoe is sitting pretty even though she can’t control her tongue.
Yeti shadow-boxing with Shadow

So far so good.

But, that hasn’t kept me from researching to see how we can do better and prevent dissension in the ranks. Here are some links I found that were helpful for me.

How to Make a Cat and Dog Get Along (wikihow)

When Dog and Cat Meet: Helping Them Get Along (WebMD)