Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Blending Families

Just when I thought I had my pets figured out, the little beasts go and pull a fast one on me.

Not only do I own codependent pets, I apparently attract people who also own codependent pets.  My new friend has a German Shorthaired Pointer who's as embarrassing as Tess when it comes to getting attention and being spoiled.  She's probably a bit more spoiled than my dog as she is allowed to sleep on the bed and sit on the furniture, and I got the stink eye when she came to my house and learned that this is not acceptable.  She also gave me the stink eye when she realized she was spending most of the day outside with Tess who she tolerates but is not a huge fan of.  Meanwhile I spent all of HER time with her master and she was not pleased.

Basically Surina thinks she's a person. Tess does too, of course, but she lives with cats that humble her at every turn. Surina fit right in with the cats because they think they are people too.  Well, to be fair, my cats believe they are above people and thus get to sit on the furniture, eat whenever they please, and stink up the house with their bodily waste, all the time thinking that their shit don't stink.

Surina and Tess have both been only dogs most of their lives.  Tess has been an only dog longer only because she is older.  When they first met they did get into a scrap because each dog thought the other had the nerve to actually try to touch their respective person.  Surina is not allowed to get pets from me and Tess is not allowed to get pets from my friend.  A dog fight ensued which we managed to tear apart, though not without casualties.  My friend got bit by both dogs, accidentally since they weren't really caring where their teeth went.

After the initial fight everyone was fine, they just sort of avoided each other.  Both still wanted attention from both of us and both of them still didn't want the other dog to get attention from either of us.

It's like trying to blend a family of teenagers.  Each dog is used to being the center of the universe.  Now they have to share their orbit and they are not pleased.  As with teenagers there is usually no reason as to why they don't get along except that they are teenagers.  There is really no reason for Surina and Tess not to get along except that they are both dogs used to being the center of the universe.  Like teenagers, dogs think the world revolves around them.  Dogs get away with it easier because they are cute.

The two dogs met the first time at my friend's house which was good for Surina because she spent the rest of the weekend doing what she loves best - following my friend's flock of guineas around and doing her pointer thing.  Tess couldn't figure out what was wrong with Surina, and amused herself with chasing flies and wasps like she does at home.  Surina is a working dog and my friend got her so he could use her as a hunting dog.  Tess is a perpetual puppy.  In the right hands she could have been a working dog too - a drug sniffer or sheep herder or something. But I babied her and I didn't really have work like that for her to do, so she plays like an overgrown pup. Tess has never been interested in birds, livestock, rabbits, or anything really that most dogs like to chase.  She'll get interested in squirrels for maybe a nanosecond.  Following birds around doesn't appeal to her, though every once in awhile she would follow Surina around the property and try to mimic what she was doing.  My dog has a short attention span and a big nose, so she would soon get bored and wander off to sniff around elsewhere.  When birds are present, Surina is focused and she'll spend all day following birds around. 

Tess, of course, was a nervous wreck spending the weekend at my friend's house because she's a nervous wreck anywhere except in her yard with either me or the Cowboy present.  This past weekend my friend and Surina visited us, and this time Tess had the home front advantage.  Tess is used to spending all day outside on the porch watching the world go by.  Surina is used to being outside too, but she is not used to being outside all day without a doggie door to get inside.  She whined most of the weekend and kept giving us these looks like we were torturing her in the bowels of hell.  I think we were kind of hoping that by the end of the weekend Tess and Surina would be solid buds and that Surina would be fine out in the yard because she had Tess to keep her company. Instead they just kind of pretended like the other one didn't exist.  Surina sat facing the door, wanting to be where the people are, and Tess sat facing the yard like she usually does, as if she thought that if she ignores the other dog long enough she'll magically disappear .  They gelled a bit better when we took them for a walk together.  They got to run loose down by the river, sniff around, and swim in the water, but they still weren't acting like two dogs who intended to bond.  Of course, I'm also expecting too much from two dogs who have only met twice. I don't bond with someone after two meetings.  I'm sure if we give the dogs some time they'll eventually learn to like each other. No one is ripping anyone's face off, so that's a plus.

I was most interested in seeing how the cats would react to Surina.  I always tell people that Percy is not a problem.  He's super chill and he likes dogs.  Sure enough, as soon as Surina came into the house Percy was in her face wanting to introduce himself.  Surina is used to barn cats, but I don't think she was quite prepared for someone as forward as my little black beast.  He behaves like, "Hi. Let's be friends.  Want to be my friend? Hi. Hi. Come on, let's play. Let's be friends."

I also say that Puckett is not a problem either as she's not exactly chill, but she is confident and the queen bee so she lets every newcomer know pretty quickly what the situation is regarding her position in the hierarchy.  Willow is the problem because she is a spaz, and she freaks out over every little thing.

They both surprised me.  Willow came downstairs almost as soon as Surina came into the house on Friday and wanted to satisfy her curiosity.  I expected a fluffy tail and a cat three times her normal size, but while she looked slightly put out and annoyed, Willow didn't hiss or throw a fit and she didn't even rake a paw across Surina's nose when Surina sniffed her.  Willow is usually the height of drama and she doesn't like strange dogs, so I was really surprised.  The rest of the weekend she spent sleeping on Surina's dog bed, and while she wasn't thrilled whenever Surina got her nose too close, she never once hissed or attacked her.

Puckett also did not behave like her normal self.  We took Surina upstairs on Friday to put her outside with Tess, and she walked by my bed where Puckett was sleeping.  She moved her nose towards Puckett.  By then she probably thought, "Hey these cats are cool! They all want to be my friend!" Puckett bunched up and hissed, then shot me a look like I'd just betrayed her. 

It's like Willow became Puckett and Puckett became Willow.  Thank God I can always count on Percy to behave a certain way.  He might trip me when I'm trying to feed him, or try to knock me down the stairs, but I can always count on him.

I spent most of the rest of the weekend kissing Puckett's ass, trying to get her to forgive me.  I tell you, that cat owns all of us and she knows it.  Its like the end of the world if Puckett is mad.  Everyone tiptoes around her, gives her treats and extra snuggles. Once I even let her get away with sitting on my chest and kneading me with her claws. I was wearing my favorite sweatshirt. She even engaged in snuggle time with my friend, and I swear she did it on purpose to punish me because she gave me that smug look the entire time she was letting him cuddle her.  Of course I reacted exactly how she knew I would.  I accused her of being a traitor, then picked her up and whisked her away, telling my friend that she is "MY PUCKETT!" while he laughed and teased me about how she loves him more.

That cat is going to drive me to drink.

By Sunday night Puckett finally emerged from downstairs because she was hungry, and sat a distance away glowering at Surina like I'd let the devil into the house.  By the next morning she was sitting next to Surina while she ate her breakfast.  She was probably trying to drive the message home of, "Hey, new dog. This is my house and I'll let you stay here, but you'd better defer to me so I'm going to intimidate you while you eat."

Surina was not intimidated. That's going to annoy Puckett, and she will not stand down until she has conquered the newcomer.  Of course, by the time Puckett got used to Surina it was time for Surina to leave.

This all leads me to conclude that Puckett was not as horrified at the idea of a new dog in the house as she was at the idea that a new dog came into the house without her permission.  If she had been asked her opinion in the beginning she probably would have been okay. She was taken by surprise on Friday, peacefully minding her own business taking a nap, when suddenly a strange new creature came stampeding into the bedroom.  In Puckett's world, things do not change without her consent.

In the end, all's well that ends well. While Surina and Tess are not solid buds yet, they tolerate each other and at least they will go for walks together. Willow did not explode and burn down the house. Percy just wants everyone to play with him. Puckett is over her little moment of pissiness. I really didn't think it would take too long for her to regain her dignity and power. She was just taken by surprise. Everyone seems to be just fine and no one has to be rehomed. 

I'm just kidding of course. I think my friend and I would probably dissolve our friendship before either of us would consider rehoming a pet.

I'm kidding about that too.  I think.

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