Making Introductions

This past week, I was contacted by DINO Rescue about doing a dog to cat introduction. It was unusual request, but my contact said she had heard good things about me and please would I help.  I agreed to help, and after hanging up with her, I contacted the client.  After getting some information about the dog and the cat, the client told me that a previous attempt to introduce the two had gone horribly wrong. According to my client, “It was a [crappy] introduction that should have gone much better than it did.”  The dog being introduced is Stella. The cat’s name is Ghost, and the resident dog’s name is Daisy.

On Thursday, I met my client at her home and began the work of properly introducing Stella to both Ghost and Daisy.  The process took about an hour and a half, with Stella on a leash the entire time.  It began with some minor hissing from Ghost and a few minor corrections to Stella, but the end result was that Ghost and Daisy both accepted Stella’s presence, and in return, Stella offered them respect.

During the introduction process, a beautiful thing happened:  Ghost curled up on the love-seat in the living room and had her front legs tucked under her, and without any hissing, swatting, or even growling, she allowed Stella to come near enough to sniff her. My client was very surprised by that, saying Ghost had never done that before.  Guiding Stella towards Daisy – a Dachsund – to encourage a calm greeting between the two, I asked Daisy to allow Stella to sniff her, and Daisy complied. Stella is a pit-mix with a very high prey drive; Daisy’s trust in me to keep her safe during the introduction process really made my day.

Stella only needed a firmer correction once during the introduction process.  She sniffed at Daisy, and then she started licking her back. In a dog with a high prey drive, this behavior cannot be allowed, so she was immediately corrected. Stella accepted the correction and did not attempt to repeat the error.

To help her understand her position in the pack, I asked my client to bring out a little bit of food for Ghost, Daisy, and Stella.  In order, Ghost was invited to the food first, followed by Daisy, and then Stella.  While she politely waited for permission to eat the food she was offered, Stella did show some food issues that will have to be addressed.  She ate extremely fast and had her front paws on either side of the bowl. This is a classic guarding behavior and it will have to be dealt with, because cats are notorious for trying to help themselves to the food their other animal companions are eating.  Stella was very good about eating with Daisy and Ghost and about not trying to take their food from them, but for the safety of both Ghost and Daisy – especially, Ghost – she will need work on her guarding behavior.  I will be speaking with the DINO contact about it, as well as with my client if my client confirms that she is going ahead with the adoption of Stella.

All in all, Stella did a beautiful job of being respectful not only to we humans, but to Ghost and Daisy, too, and I wish the family many happy years together.


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