Guest Blog by Sid Shapira
We’re all familiar with the expression, “fighting like cats and dogs.” Google that phrase and you’ll discover plenty of unsavory descriptions: “To fight or argue often or with a lot of anger,” or “to have angry arguments all the time,” or “to argue jealously and violently all the time.”
Who hasn’t experienced, at one time or another, the combustible nature of the feline and canine relationship? But what if your pets don’t follow that script and that anticipated hatred and hostility never materializes?
Meet your brother
Who knew what was in the cards when we brought home our adopted dog, Danny, in August 2013? After all, the incumbents – cat sisters Winnie and Marley, a pair of Manx rescues – had ruled the house for nearly six years. Now, here we were adding a newcomer – a dog, no less – to the equation. Oh, and did I mention that Danny, our little Shih Tzu, is our first dog – ever! Were we crazy?
Turns out, we were lucky!
A delicate situation
In preparation for this household transformation, we had talked to friends, animal lovers and veterinarians on how to handle and manage the different species. We were told bringing a dog into a cat-only environment was a delicate and dicey situation to be sure.
“Keep them isolated,” said one. “Introduce them slowly,” said another. “Good luck!” said a third.
Hardly encouraging words.
The first order of business on the way home from the pet rescue organization was to pick up a dog crate from our friends. When we arrived home, we quickly placed Danny in the crate in the laundry room before bringing in the cats for their initial encounter.
Positive first meeting
Surprisingly, the introduction went well. After some sniffs, a few curious glances – yet no growls or hisses – we removed Winnie and Marley from the room.
Meanwhile, as bedtime approached Danny began to fuss in his crate. We removed him from the crate, but left him sequestered in the laundry room. Immediately, he began to bark, whimper and scratch at the door. Sleep would have to wait.
After several minutes of commotion, we decided to grant Danny full access to the house. And, to our delight, he didn’t make a fuss and even interacted nicely with Winnie and Marley while he roamed the house. We couldn’t believe our good fortune.
The chase is on
Fast forward a few weeks and the honeymoon was still going strong. Danny and his cat sisters had developed a strong bond, along with a unique morning ritual. Every morning like clockwork, Danny awakes from his slumber, hops off the bed, and chases the cats all over the house.
He’s never been able to catch them – they’re just too quick and agile for a dog built for comfort, not speed – but the chase is entertaining to observe. And there isn’t an ounce of animosity in the pursuit.
Meanwhile, within days we would discover Danny, Winnie and Marley cuddled up side by side on the bed or in a basket. It was a beautiful thing and something totally unexpected.
A love connection
Despite the morning chase and the cuddling, perhaps the latest and greatest indicator of this incredible canine-feline bond is a morning routine that has surfaced over the last few weeks. Shortly after they wake up each morning, Winnie will mosey on over to Danny, take a sniff or two, and then begin grooming him. All the while, Danny lies calmly as he thoroughly enjoys the pampering.
So what’s the secret to maintaining harmony in a blended household? I have absolutely no idea. As my wife says, “Don’t try to explain it – just enjoy it.”
Fighting like cats and dogs? Not a chance in our house!
Sid is an award-winning author and proud pet parent. His nonfiction children’s book, “Danny Dog – A rescue dog finds his forever home,” received the 2015 Family Choice Award and was named to RedRover Readers Recommended Books with Humane Themes list. Sid and his wife Sheryl share their home with their three delightful rescue pets: cats Winnie and Marley, and dog Danny. More at dannyrescuedog.com.