Cats & Dogs: Can’t We All Just Get Along?

Moving into my house made me finally feel comfortable, and settled enough to really think about getting a dog. But…I’ve got two cats, and one has historically been very afraid of dogs. Even little dogs. I used to dog-sit a daschund and Jerry, my scaredy cat, would just hide under the bed unless the dog was asleep in his crate. Jerry outweighed the dog by at least 6 pounds.

So I’ve been on a mission to desensitize him to dogs. Oddly my first attempt, with another small dog, didn’t seem to go over that well. He continued to hide under the bed, and make terrible growling and wailing noises (that my friend describes as a muffled fire engine). I was, however, surprised to wake up in the morning (with the dog under the blankets in my bed) to find Jerry wandering freely around my room. Once the dog got up that was all over, but at least I knew he’d come out from under the bed.

Then another friend stopped by with her border collie. Jerry went and hid upstairs again, but when the dog settled down I saw him come creeping down the stairs. As soon as he saw the dog he high-tailed it upstairs again but that was a big step forward. (Meanwhile, my other cat was feeling a bit threatened by the dog’s boldness and attacked him to let him know who is boss.)

So last night my friend dropped off her pooch with me before getting ready to leave on her honeymoon. She’ll be gone for two weeks but I’ll only have the dog until Monday (she gets to go hang out with other dogs at doggie daycare/boarding). When Tulla the Trial Dog arrived Jerry was laying on the couch and, quite to my surprise, he didn’t run the minute he saw her. Instead he hung out on the couch and made the same horrible noises he usually makes in the presence of a dog. Despite the growling and hissing, this was big progress!

He spent the entire night on the couch (until I took Tulla out to pee and he went to hide) but that was at least 5 hours of all of us hanging out in the same space without anything more than a few hisses.

This morning, I faced one of my bigger fears. I was afraid I’d let the cats out and Jerry wouldn’t come home if he knew there was a dog in the house. But he did… and when the felines were both inside I let Tulla out to stare at squirrels.

I’m hoping that by the end of the weekend all the animals are sleeping in a pile together.

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