Tag: acceptance

Feb 06

Fighting Like Cats and Dogs?

Over the years, we’ve had a total of seven dogs and two cats. (I’m embarrassed to admit how many of them are with us currently–suffice it to say, pet hair is one of my main foes.)

They’ve come to us from different¬†circumstances (all but two were rescues, most had a pretty bad start in life) and they’ve come to us at different ages (some babies, others adults, one a senior–five years later, she’s still tap dancing for treats and spends her mornings playing with puppies). They’ve shared one thing in common, though: they’ve all gotten along.

Chloe and Jake, pioneers in stereotype breaking

Sure, we know the deal. Dogs and cats are so-called “natural enemies,” destined to fight. They are different, after all–not even the same species–while some of their main similarities are that they’re predators with a tendency to be territorial. So, it’s really no surprise that plenty of dogs and cats do fight.

Even around here, there have been days when our home was a far cry from Switzerland. It’s not like we’re spiking the water or anything.

A thirsty Bodhi being very, very patient

As far as we know, none of our dogs had lived with cats before coming here, and vice versa. They weren’t at all comfortable around one another in the beginning. There was fear, on both sides, and that sometimes led to aggression.

One of our dogs, Tess, has borne a scar on her nose since puppyhood, from where Molly the cat taught her not to get too close without an invitation. On the other hand, Molly spent over a year camped out on the stairs, because for our biggest dog, Bodhi, it was infatuation at first sight. He stared (and stared) and she stared back until, finally, Molly got fed up and traded fear for coexistence. These days, if not exactly the best of friends, they are at least peaceful acquaintances.

Molly and Bodhi, conspiring in an all-too common furniture siege

I can’t be sure how or why all our dogs and cats opted to get along, but I do know it took time and required an effort from both sides. Whenever someone new was introduced, there was an adjustment period. There was a slow building of acceptance, which was followed by respect and then trust. Friendships take time to happen (even within species).

Itty bitty Tess meeting our Missy for the first time —

Missy had no idea what she was in for ūüôā

It probably helps that our pets are good natured, and they live in an environment where their basic needs are met. It can’t hurt that they all feel safe and loved. Yes, we humans have done our best to welcome them all to our family, but they are the ones who’ve taken it to the next level.

Tess and Molly, breaking bread together, so to speak

(courtesy of Bodhi–these are his bowls)

So, even though our dogs and cats are very different creatures–with the potential to do each other bodily¬†harm–they don’t fight. There may be many factors behind this, but I believe there is one, essential truth¬†at the heart of their peaceful coexistence: it’s in everyone’s best interest to get along.

We humans may not always grasp this point, but I’m grateful that our animals do. It makes the little world inside our home a happier, more peaceful place to live.

Our cast of characters: