I am often made to realize that though I love my dogs, I underestimate them. Maybe it is because Toady is so big and everyone seems to be intimidated by him, but I tend to think that he will not take kindly to other animals or new people. I am usually, gladly, proven wrong, as so happened about a week ago.
My brother came here from Nova Scotia last week, and we took him out for supper. On the way home, we stopped at the corner store to get some snacks. I am on good terms with the family that owns the store, and they were in a tizzy about a kitten that they had found by the garbage bins. They couldn’t take the poor thing in, and since it was a Friday night, none of the shelters were open. I was in the store alone, and without even seeing the poor little bugger my heart began to ache. It was cold out, not too cold, but cold enough, and the kitten would have to sleep outside in a box overnight. I couldn’t help it, I told them that we would take her home for the night and then figure out what to do with her.
I called Manbeast in, and told him what we were going to do. I felt a bit bad for agreeing to take it in without asking him, but he waved away my apologies and promptly went outside to fetch it. We found it waiting at the door of the store, squeaking at anyone who walked by. I picked it up and it snuggled right into my arms and purred loudly. I was melting. I hadn’t thought about the issue of having two large dogs and a cat in our house already, I had only thought about getting the tiny little orphan out of the cold. Our drive home from the store was only a couple of minutes, but I started to feel my apprehension build. My brother was laughing at me in the back seat for being so mushy, even though he would have done the same.
We got in the house, and the dogs immediately knew something was different. I was scared to death to set the kitten down, because I thought they would eat her. Manbeast took her from me and set her down near the cat food and litter box. She squeaked at us, rubbed against our legs, and went to do her business in the right place. The little furball was used to people and knew how to use a litter box, evidence that she had been abandoned by someone. The dogs were curious. Eerily curious to me. They waited, whining, at the edge of the porch, watching her every move. I was afraid. Toady approached her, whining and panting, and she batted at his face. No claws, just a warning. I shooed him to the bedroom.
We dubbed the cat Squeaker for her silly little sounds, and put her in a dog kennel with food and water and access to the little box over night. Then we went to bed. My brother sat with her passed out on his chest from exhaustion and then went to bed himself. Somehow, during the night, Squeaker escaped and decided to explore. The next morning, the dogs inspected every surface in the house and found her curled up and fast asleep on the couch. I wasn’t awake yet, but Manbeast was. He was much more grounded than me in this circumstance, having introduced new animals many times before. The dogs sniffed Squeaker, she hissed at them, and it was done. After that, they were sleeping on the couch together, not touching but close.
They allowed Squeaker to have the run of the house, even letting her eat out of their bowls. We watched carefully for any signs of a fight, but nothing happened. I started to ease into it. We kept Squeaker for a second night, because we figured she could use the rest. She had the sweetest personality I have ever encountered in a cat. She was probably around 6 months old if that, and had a love of people and snuggling like an addiction. She was trusting, squeaky, small, and sweet. That day we even left the animals all alone in the house for a bit only to come home and find them all asleep, ignoring each other. We posted an ad looking for an owner, and had the family from the store ask anyone who came in but no luck.
On Sunday, we took her to the Humane Society. During the previous night, she had found her confidence and got into everything she could. She had even got onto the counters and ripped at the pen on the calendar. She had obviously recovered from her ordeal. Odin was happy to see her go, us not so much. But, four animals and a new room mate makes for a full house. Too full. We took her in, acknowledging that we would never know her fate and that she would now be the responsibility of the SPCA. It was sad, but at least we got to give her a rest for the weekend and got to know a new animal.
I learned that my dogs take their queues from me. If I bring something into the house that I tell them is off limits, it’s off limits. If I show them that they mustn’t harm something, they leave it be. If I bring in a tiny stray kitten for the weekend, they won’t eat it. In fact, they will accept it even more readily than I do. It’s times like those that I wonder at the connection that we have with our pets. They understand more than we think, and they learn from our own behaviours and actions. It’s incredible to think that they are so in tune with us that they can trust what we say without questioning it. It’s a beautiful thing, and I will do my best to never doubt it again.