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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Dogs with Cat Problems, or Perhaps it's the Other Way Around

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© photo copyright Carrie Boyko 2008
A Rare Moment of Camera Friendliness

I probably don't mention it often enough, but I do have a cat. Her name is Patches; she was adopted shortly after Xena,  our 12 10/12ths Retriever mix. Xena and Patches grew up together, playing tag and hide-and-go-seek for years. Patches used to hide when she heard Xena coming and give Xena a right-cross from behind a couch. She was quite a pistol in her youth. These days, not so much. She finds more pleasure in locating a warm spot to curl up in, with an occasional lizard hunting trip onto the screened porch.

Patches, like Xena, has arrived at her senior citizen years, despite the fact that cats live much longer than Retrievers. The two still frequently nap together, although they quickly disperse whenever I get the camera out to capture this. Patches is quite camera shy.

Enough of that. Let's get down to business--Tanner and Oliver business. Tanner, I expected, would be more of a challenge, coming into Patches life when she was about 9 1/2. She was not terribly thrilled to have a hyperactive youngster join the family--especially one who was larger than her already. Little did she know that this juvenile would outsize her by 7 times before he was done growing.

Nevertheless, Patches has always been able to take care of herself. A lightning-fast swipe of the paw past a delicate doggie nose and she quickly made her point with Tanner. He stopped chasing her to beg for a tag game very quickly, and she no doubt thought she was quite a tough girl. These two are easy housemates now. But...

Along came Oliver 2 years later. He's still another story. Oliver refuses to give up on his invitations to play with Patches. After all, she is exactly the same size as him. Why shouldn't they be best friends? "I hate to tell you Oliver, but it is just not going to happen. She's set in her ways and that's that."

So, I guess Oliver and Patches both have a problem. But so do we. When young Tanner discovered Patches' litter box and food dish, he thought he had found Heaven. Until we installed a cat door in the door to the laundry room, where her "stuff" resides, he was forever into it.

The cat door was the perfect fix. Instead of buying one from a store, our carpenter simply cut a kitty sized entry way out of the door, and trimmed it nicely before painting it. You can see in the photo, that it is neat and convenient for her, while keeping the 2 Retrievers out. Perfect!

Unfortunately, it is now also convenient for Oliver. I suppose when he grows out of his adolescence, perhaps we'll have more luck keeping him out of her "room". He needs to learn, but she also needs a safe place to eat and take care of business. Using a baby gate has been our solution, at least for Oliver's younger years, to separate kitty and pup for a more peaceful home for Patches. The gate is sometimes left open when company comes, in order to ease their confusion. As you can imagine, Oliver and Patches can put on quite a show for our guests at these times.

It goes something like this: Oliver charges up to Patches, offering an enthusiastic Play Bow. Patches swats him and turns her back. Oliver runs around to face her and tries again. Patches repeats the swat. And so it goes. Poor Patches! Or maybe it's poor Oliver?

Perhaps I will write to Dr. Jacki (All Things Dog Blog's ASK THE VET Columnist) for help. That's a great idea. Maybe. She might just tell me I need to consult a trainer. She'd be right, of course. Yet, somewhere deep inside I know that he also needs to grow up a bit. Perhaps I'll simply have to continue letting Patches train Oliver herself, while guarding her private space. She's doing a pretty good job of keeping the canine gang at bay, especially when she's out-numbered 3 to 1. Should I rename her something tough? Hmmm?!

NOTE: Just in case you missed it, Dr. Jacki is now taking questions for her ASK THE VET column, right here at All Things Dog Blog. Numerous columns have already been published, and Dr. Jacki's columns are quite popular with readers. Feel free to write to her yourself at the link above.

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