From a photograph by Solomon D. Butcher of four daughters of rancher Joseph M. Chrisman, at their sod house in Custer County, Nebraska. From left to right, Harriet, Elizabeth, Lucie, and Ruth. Photographed in 1886.

Friday, March 16, 2012

A Dog in a Cat Family

Cats and dog make peace



About a year ago, Dennis brought home a little homeless Basset hound that had been hanging around his workplace and beseeching him for friendship.

I felt sorry for the little dog, but I was dubious that she would fit into a household that already had two cats. That's an understatement. To be more accurate, I was furious with Sophie for scaring the cats so badly. Every chance she got, she gave them a merry chase -- merry for her, but terrifying for Casper and Skittles, who wondered why we were allowing a monster to live at our house.

Isaac theorized that Sophie thought the cats were members of the rabbit family ("house rabbits", Isaac said,) and, being a Basset hound and natural born rabbit-chaser, she was only following her instincts. I understood that, but it was hard to feel any sympathy for Sophie as, night after night,  I had to coax Casper out of the neighbor's barns where he had taken refuge.

After a few weeks, Skittles had had enough. She decided that Sophie would not interfere with her life, and  when Sophie tried to chase, Skittles didn't run anymore. She stopped and turned around, and Sophie backed off.

Casper remained afraid, though, and Sophie took every chance to intimidate him. She restrained herself in our presence, but when she thought we weren't watching, she chased Casper, just for the joy of making him run.

I wished I could tell Casper that if he would just once turn around and give Sophie a claw in the nose, she would never bother him again.  But little by little, Casper became braver. He finally realized that Sophie didn't bother him when I was carrying him. Then, he learned that if a human was between him and Sophie, he could safely creep by.

We kept Sophie outside most of the time, but one day, she was visiting inside the house and she fell asleep. With great caution, Casper crept close to her. He was ready to run, but she stayed asleep as he sniffed her all over. I guess he had been wondering exactly what she was.

Sophie had an accident a few months ago. We don't know what happened, but she cracked her pelvis and injured one of her hip joints. She spent several weeks inside the house. If the cats were surprised at this turn of events, they quickly saw that she wasn't interested in them anymore. She only wanted to sleep (the effect of her pain pills.) We are still bringing Sophie inside at night to sleep in her crate, and I anticipate that this will continue.

Yesterday, we came to a milestone. When Dennis got home from work, Sophie came inside with him. A few minutes later, I saw Sophie and Casper, lying on the kitchen floor within four feet of each other. I would never have predicted that degree of comfort between them, a year ago.

I wouldn't say that the cats and the dog are friends, but they do accept that they are relatives. This sort of truce often exists between members of a family.

Related:
Partners in Crime
The Life of Skittles
Extreme Cat Moods
Making Friends
Kids and Kittens

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CONTENTMENT: Keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry, live simply, expect little, give much, sing often, pray always, forget self, think of others and their feelings, fill your heart with love, scatter sunshine. These are the tried links in the golden chain of contentment.
(Author unknown)

IT IS STILL BEST to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasure; and to be cheerful and have courage when things go wrong.
(Laura Ingalls Wilder, 1867-1957)

Thanks for reading.