Cat Vs Dog: Living in harmony


It was on one of my first dates where the question cropped: are you a cat or dog person? Having never owned either, I'd see how you might think I didn't have a preference. But you'd be mistaken. At that time, I'd have picked dogs over cats every time. My husband on the other hand, well, he'd grown up with the affection of cats and over time, hearing his stories about their lovable nature and funny personalities, I was won over. I still wanted a dog, but I started to see the joy of having a cat in your life. That is how Millie joined the clan.

Adopted from a local rescue centre, I was overjoyed at having this tiny ball of fluff in my life - that was until she tried to leap from our third floor window, or escape into next door's flat and I realised while she was a kitten the apartment was fine, but that she wasn't a sit-on-your-lap-and-have-a-cuddle type of cat. She was a hunter and she needed the outdoors. As life moved on and jobs changed, so did our lifestyle. Luckily for Millie she was given her freedom at 1 year old, and has spent the past few years continually bringing back little 'presents' for me to show her gratitude (joy!). She still only accepts being petted on her terms, and a twitch of the tail and flash of claws soon shows you when she's had enough. So with a cat that didn't like affection, and only purred for you when the can of tuna opened, we wondered if a companion might mellow her out. The time had arrived for another addition to the family. Her name is Lola.

It took a long time to decide what type of dog would suit our lifestyle but more importantly, would be one that would be fine with Millie... and that Millie would tolerate. We didn't want to be those people who dump their first pet when they get the next one - there was plenty of love for them both! We looked at big dogs, small dogs, fluffy ones and slobbery ones and in the end we decided the best route to go would be to get a crossbreed puppy that we could train, and that Millie would gradually be able to accept over time.

Before Lola even came home we set ground rules to benefit Millie - like the dog not being allowed upstairs, that she'd be crate trained and we'd keep them separated, allowing them a few minutes a day together and growing that over time (supervised!). It seems a lot to think about when all you really care about is having the adorable puppy in your home! But these rules have paid off, and now we have a pair that not only live in harmony, they enrich our lives and enrich each others.

Once our training began with Lola, there were additional rules we put in place so that she knows her place in the pack is below Millie's. Millie gets fed before her, let out before her, allowed to walk through doors before her and most importantly, allowed to escape upstairs when she wants some respite - where Lola is not allowed. This all helps keeps Lola in her place in the pack, something that we were told in our puppy training class helps dogs to be obedient and happy. If they know you're head of the pack, they won't disobey you.

"Pet me once, shame on you. Pet me twice, shame on me!"
 Millie on the other hand steals Lola's bed, drinks from her bowls and chases her around the garden! They play together, sit together and sometimes even sleep together on our spare sofa. If Millie's sleeping in her bed, Lola won't go in until we've booted Millie out.

So if you asked me now if I'm a dog lover, or a cat person, my answer would be simple: Both!

Laura x

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