I have one dog and one cat, both rescues.
The dog, Marley, is an all-white American Staffordshire Terrier with a black nose. She came to us as a foster dog. I was asked if I would take a pit bull. I said I’d give it a whirl. This was about seven years ago, when the bad press for pit bulls was at its height.
Marley was a “foster fail,” which means we ended up adopting her. She was a couch potato, so I knew she was the right dog for me. She is sweet-tempered, not at all like the pit bulls portrayed in the scary stories. You don’t hear those stories so much anymore. I think the more people lived with pit bulls and realized what sweethearts they usually are, the less impact those stories had.
Don’t get me wrong: any dog can bite, and some do. Dogs mauling people is a real thing. Never assume that your sweet pooch would never hurt another dog, chicken, goat, or human being. It happens, especially if Poochy is running with another dog or two.
Marley has been with me for almost seven years and in that time, I have seen her do that dog thing where there is a lot of growling, barking, and snapping of teeth, but no actual contact or bloodshed, twice. First time it happened the other dog was being all alpha dog to her. She wasn’t buying it, and after a quick noisy skirmish, he was sent empty away. I was shocked, but it made me aware that even the sweetest dog needs to be watched. You never know.
My cat, Mellow, is a tuxedo cat – black with white marking. He is an affectionate and independent guy who likes to come in the house and go outside about twenty times a day. He greets visitors by jumping in their laps and settling down for a nice purr and drool session.
Most afternoons he can be found curled up asleep on my bed. During the night he likes to sleep on top of me for short periods of time, then his head comes up like he has suddenly remembered something, and he leaves.
Mellow hunts. This summer I have glanced outside a few times and seen him tormenting some poor rodent he’s caught, and once, a bird. I don’t mind him catching rodents. I don’t like it when he gets a bird, but a cat’s a cat.
He’s a typical cat in many ways. Likes to get up on the keyboard when he sees me at the computer, and if I shoo him off, he’ll come back and lie down on my mouse hand or crawl up on my shoulder and cuddle into my neck. When I’m reading, he likes to head-butt the book. When I’m writing longhand, he likes to head-butt my hand. If I’m doing a puzzle, he lies down on the puzzle. Sometimes he lies in the meat loaf position, sometimes he sticks a hind leg in the air and licks his butt. See? Typical cat.
Marley and Mellow have worked out their relationship over the years and peacefully co-exist most of the time. Sometimes Mellow will hiss and swat at Marley as she walks by. Marley’s been good about not retaliating.
Often, they snuggle up close to each other on my bed, black cat and white dog, an animal yin yang.
Now, good fortune smiled on me a few months ago in the form of a renter named Erin. If you have ever rented out a room in your house, you know how rare it is to find someone with whom you really get along.
After Erin had been here a few months, she decided to bring her cat here. The cat, officially named Chairman Meow but Bunny to his friends, had been living with Erin’s mother while Erin traveled.
Bunny is a big beautiful, sweet-natured kitty, part Maine Coon cat. He tipped the scales at twenty-four pounds when he arrived. He’s large.
Erin and I both figured that Mellow might have problems with another cat moving into his space, so Erin studied videos on how to introduce the cats to each other. “Slowly” seems to be key.
They have their separate territories in the house. Mellow will run if he feels threatened (did I mention that Bunny is large?), but gradually the two cats have been able to spend a little more time in the same room peacefully. So far so good. We have hopes.
I wish I’d had videos about how to introduce a new critter to the family back when I was having babies. But there were no videos, no internet, no youtube. Oh, children, it was hard times.