Here is Becky, a nine-year-old foxhound-type who came to our farm as a foster-to-adopt candidate. Amazingly, for an old dog, she has tons of energy, a great body condition and seemed to be fitting in. After the loss of Holly, our older German Shepherd, we felt ready for a new companion and a friend for Otto. Maybe an older, harder to home, shelter dog could find a place with us. We decided to try.
Our style of keeping dogs involves off leash and under voice command outside, movement restricted to the dog area inside. Becky quickly adapted from having the run of a house to staying in the dog area inside. For an old dog with minimal leash training, she was making strides in responding to voice commands on the leash in preparation for off-lead. She and Otto quickly became pals.
The first day she was here, she charged at a cat who came to investigate the new arrival. At our house, the cats and dogs must get along. Our tiger cat Toby, who is sixteen, Chloe the tuxedo kitty and the two brother cats, Kai and Cary who came to us as newborns from the shelter, all enjoy being with dogs. After a few days, the cats had forgiven Becky’s early poor manners and returned to try and make friends. Things seemed ok. Becky would lie down and tolerate a cat within a foot of her with no aggression. Everyone thought things would be wonderful.
Then, two nights ago, as I worked on the computer and the dogs rested in their area, all the cats came to visit me. As is their furry wont, kitties sat beside me on the desk, curled behind me to look over my shoulder and settled nearby to observe. All was quiet and content. Toby had climbed on a bench and curled up for a nap. After about ten minutes, for no reason I could discern, Becky suddenly jumped up and rushed at Toby, sending him, and the other cats, scattering for the hills.
Maybe it was a game for her; jump the cats and see them run, perhaps she just got sick of a feline relaxing bold as brass six feet away from her, who knows why she did it? She ruined her chances of living at the farm. We cannot trust her with the cats so she must go. Since then the cats have stayed clear of Becky. I’m hoping that continues until Tuesday when I return her to the shelter’s foster home an hour away. Too bad, she is a nice dog otherwise.
I’m thinking now that the easiest way for us to get the sort of dog that can coexist with our menagerie of cats, horses, rabbits and free-range chickens is to start with a puppy and train it ourselves. The strategy has always worked in the past, guess we should stick with it.