Patches and Xena: BFF's
Our Retriever mix, Xena, was nearly an only pet at the time we adopted her at our neighborhood PetSmart. Although we did have a kitty, Corey Lou, she was 18 years old and not exactly a bundle of playfulness. Xena's beautiful Golden Retriever mom was a show dog that had gotten outside during a heat cycle and, well, you can guess the rest of that story.
A few months after Xena came to live with us, we decided she could use a housemate to keep her company during our absences. Instead of another dog, we felt a kitten would be well-received since she was still a puppy and had demonstrated a like for other fluffy felines she had met.
So off we went one day, back to the same rescue where we adopted Xena. They had a batch of kittens, cute as they could be, playing and tumbling all over each other to meet us. We had taken Xena along, hopeful that she would give us some insight into which kitten to select. Sure enough, as we introduced each kitten to her, we could see a significant difference in the first impressions occurring.
Patches was last, and her predecessors in this process had not fared terribly well. Each had demonstrated some form of fear or dislike of Xena. Not Patches. She stood up tall and swatted Xena right across the snout as if to say "Let's get one thing cleared up right now; I'm in charge!" And that she was. Xena took an immediate liking to her, despite her spunky introduction, and so it would go throughout Xena's life with us. The two bonded almost instantly and played tag together for years, as if they were litter mates.
Following Xena's passing 2 years ago, Patches spent her days snoozing at the entrance to Xena's crate. She was on watch. Although she did search the house daily, it was always a fruitless task and she would then return to Xena's crate to stand guard.
Finally one day I had the lightbulb moment. I took Xena's crate down. Who knew that its presence was keeping Patches thinking that she would return? Not me, obviously. That oh-so-obvious change put Patches onto a new path. She is once again spending time with our family, napping in areas close to the other pets, rather than only at Xena's crate. It took a while, but she realized that without a crate there, Xena must be permanently gone too.
Patches has now bonded to Tanner. This took time, but his patience and calm demeanor with her has finally brought her around. Oliver, not so much. He has learned a lot about her lack of desire for play, although he still gives it the 'ole college try once a week or so. No luck! Until he gives her some space, she's not likely to get connected to him, but at least he understands the necessary manners he must employ in order to live with her and keep his nose intact. After all, we know she can take care of his snout with one swoop.
What's holding your bonded pet back from rebonding with you after the loss of another pet? Hopefully you'll take a close look at each and every symbol of the pet that was gone. Somewhere in that search you'll find the connection that will help you get your left behind friend back into your inner circle. Good luck!