Our friends, Ken and Brenda, have a cat and a dog, Smudge and Jake. Brenda is a big-time animal lover and would likely have a whole menagerie if not for the force that holds her back ... Ken.
Smudge is gray, long-haired and has the most gorgeous soft, olive green eyes that I have ever seen on a cat.
Jake is a loveable little goofball with personality oozing out of his pores. He and I hit it off right from the start. He is a chihuahua/lab mix (yes, you read that right ... it's a thing! Google it!). He's solid white with the palest of brown patches, and funny chihuahua front feet, and one ear up and one ear down, and big, expressive eyes. He barely stands knee high, solid and stocky, but not very large ... I'd guess maybe 25 lbs or so.
In days past, before I had a mom and 2 cats at my house, whenever Ken and Brenda took off on a trip that was too long to leave Jake all alone, we'd bring him to our house. And for a few days I'd be a dog-mom again ... going on walks, passing out the occasional treat, and having a running conversation with my little shadow all day long.
A couple of months ago Ken and Brenda announced that they were planning a 2-week trip to Germany to visit family. They didn't even ask and I didn't volunteer this time for Jake-duty, because now I have my own little menagerie at my house.
But then I found out that whenever they've boarded Jake at a kennel, he barks incessantly to the point that the kennel folks have to keep him mildly sedated. That's not good ... not for 2 whole weeks! So I volunteered to keep him.
When I finally told mom that we'd be keeping a dog for 2 weeks, I was so relieved to find that she didn't seem concerned at all. Neither of us knew how the cats might react ... but we'd just play it by ear. If the reaction was terrible, I'd just have to keep Jake in the main house and out of the apartment.
As I'm writing this, we're already into the second week ... only five more days until Jake goes back home ... it's been interesting to say the least ...
It's one thing to have head knowledge about dogs and cats. You just know ... cats are aloof and independent and not all that concerned about what you think. Dogs, on the other hand, are social creatures. They have to be where you are, doing what you're doing, and they really, really, really need to know that you are approving of it all.
DAY 1 The initial meeting with the cats and mom went about as well as could be expected.
Mom fell in love with Jake right off the bat, 'cause she has a real soft spot for babies and small animals. With his soulful eyes and gentlemanly-ways, it's pretty darn hard to not fall in love with Jake ... unless you are Patty and Squirt, our two cats.
There were the expected arched backs and raised fur and a few hisses. Then Patty just turned away and ignored him. Squirt high-tailed it back to the bedroom and under the bed, and there he stayed until bedtime when he, mom and Patty were all alone together for the night. Jake didn't seem to mind ... his job was to watch every move I made and follow me everywhere I went. He barely acknowledged mom, despite the fact that she talked to him almost non-stop.
Jake and I began our routine of daily walks, first thing in the morning, before we open up the apartment, and a second walk in the evening after mom and the cats have retired for the night. He sleeps in his own bed on our side of the house.
DAY 2 Squirt doesn't come out of the bedroom at all, but he's not under the bed anymore. We know, because there's a big lump in the middle of the bed. Squirt doesn't get "in" the bed. He has learned how, from the floor, to get in between the sheet and the top spread and climb up. When you see the lump and pull back the sheet along with the spread, there's no cat! So just pull back the spread only, and there he is ... the little coward!
Jake is so gentle when he approaches Patty. He's got his own cat at home, so he knows how to do this ... he just wants to be friends. She hisses at him and moves away. If he tries to approach her and gets too close, he'll get hissed at. If she accidentally gets too close to him, she steps as slowly and as carefully as she can to get past him, then hurries away.
Our rude cats ... they surely can't be southerners. Mom begins scolding the cats, and apologizing to the dog. We really thought we had raised them better.
DAYS 3-4 Squirt is still under the bedspread. Patty is starting to adjust a bit ... all that means is that she's a little more relaxed and back to her usual snotty self. She's hissing less, but still tiptoes slowly past when she gets too close to the dog.
I'm going into Squirt withdrawals ... I'm missing my regular lap time with Squirt at the end of the day. So at the end of the fourth day, I put Jake out of the apartment temporarily so I can make Squirt come out from under the covers and spend a few minutes with me. Jake is sitting on the other side of the closed door whining because I'm out of sight.
DAYS 5-8 We're maintaining the status quo, but we got a pleasant surprise on Day 5 ... after lunch, I go back to the apartment to find out that Squirt is out! I think he finally got tired of hiding all alone in that bed for days. But he just sits and glares at the dog.
Poor Jake! He's been nothing but gentle and approachable, but our rude cowardly cats will have nothing to do with him. I think he's about had enough.
DAY 9 Only five more days and poor Jake can go back to his own home and his own family where he's appreciated. Except for the humans, he hasn't experienced much hospitality in this place. Today he let us know it ...
Jake was stretched out, sound asleep, not bothering anybody.
Squirt came slinking out of the bedroom, saw Jake asleep on the floor, then proceeded to sneak over ever so slowly for a closer look ...
Mom and I weren't paying any attention, so we're not entirely sure what Squirt did. When Squirt sees something in the room that's been moved or maybe something he doesn't recognize, he'll put a paw out ever so gently and touch it to see what it is. I think that's what he did to Jake ... put that paw out and just gently touched him on the snout.
Naturally it startled Jake awake and he jumped straight up and barked one good, sharp bark ... Stop that, cat!!
Squirt, being the coward that he is, high-tailed it back under the bed and didn't come back out for the rest of the day. Jake came and plopped down wearily next to where we were sitting. Poor dog ... it's a whole lot of work trying to be nice and get along with folks who just won't give you a break.
And that's why this dog person, who's almost been converted to a cat person, is having second thoughts.
Still, next week, when life is back to normal, and that rude, cowardly cat is laying across my lap, schmoozing me up and luring me in with all that fluffy, touchable softness, I will likely succumb and get all ensnared by his charms ... and I'll find out that I'm weak and cowardly, too!
Hang in there, Jake ... we can make it ... five more days, boy ... just five more days ...