Sunday, July 22, 2012

Canine and Feline Companions

I thought that it was well past time for me to write a post about our canine and feline companions. Most people would simply call them pets, but I try to avoid the term. To me, the term pets implies ownership. The definition of pet is:
                "a domesticated animal kept for pleasure rather than utility"
-Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary -

I don't think of the animals who live here as pets. They are our companions, our friends. They are free to come and go as they please. They remain here of their own accord, and can leave anytime they choose. 

Currently, there is one cat and two dogs living here. Miss Kitty is the cat, Luke and Jack are the dogs. We're still not sure if Jack is going to stick around. He's been here less than a week, but he seems happy, so I have a feeling he'll stay.

Miss Kitty is a muted calico, who the vet believes is maybe 3-4 years old. She came to live with us in November of 2010. We had been discussing the need for having a cat around the place, as we had a mice problem. One day, while I was at my desk working, I looked out the window and saw a cat walking up the drive way. We sat some food out, and she eventually came and ate it. She stuck around, so we fed her again later. She was clearly very hungry and happy to have food. The fact that it was raining when I spotted her makes me think that she was homeless and was looking for something to eat. After waiting a week or two, we decided she was going to stick around so took her to the vet for a wellness checkup and some shots. We started letting her come into the house, and taught her to use a litter box. Later that year, in December and January, we had to be gone for a long period of time, as my Dad was very sick. We spent 4-5 weeks away from home, with just quick visits to check on things about once a week. Kitty was waiting for us when we returned, and we knew that she had found a new home. Today she is an inside/outside cat. She spends quite a bit of time inside, but will often spend nights outside. She has learned how to tell us when she wants out, and sometimes even lets us know when she's ready to come back in. She hasn't done much to address the mouse problem, but we love having her around nonetheless.

Luke is a Labrador Retriever mixed with what we believe is Chow. He is about a year and a half old. He's been with us since he was 6 weeks old. We had been considering getting a dog for quite some time. I had decided on a Lab, because I felt the breed would do well in our environment. We planned to either do a rescue, or possibly buy from a reputable breeder. However, we heard via a friend about some lab mix puppies that were needing a home. They were going to be sent to the pound if a home couldn't be found, so we decided that we'd like to give one a home. If I am remembering correctly, there were 4 puppies remaining when we went to look at them. One was very shy, and another was very active, friendly, and curious. We ruled both of those out, as we didn't want a puppy with an extreme personality. We decided on the friendlier of the two remaining puppies. Having a puppy around was a new experience for both Andrea and myself. I once swore that I'd never do it again. As Luke got a bit older, though, and matured, he has become very easy to deal with. He's very friendly and gentle, and never gives us any trouble. He occasionally wakes me up at night, but its always because he's heard or seen something. Sometimes I'll get up and go outside with him. I use to have to do that a lot, but now its rare. There have been a couple of times when I've had to actually go into the woods with him so he could try to track whatever it was that had his attention. I'm happy to do it, though, because I know that its very unlikely anything or anyone will sneak into the yard without Luke noticing, and either alerting us with his barking or run them off. We certainly see far fewer deer and turkey since Luke came to live with us. 

Jack is, we believe, a German Shepherd. We're assuming he's mixed, but we have no idea what with. Once we take him to the vet for the first time, we should have a better idea. Our guess is that he's 3-6 months old. I previously described how Jack came to live with us. He's been here for nearly a week now and I think he's going to stay. We still haven't heard of anyone losing a puppy matching his description, so its seeming more and more likely that he was set out on purpose. So far we haven't had any of the issues with Jack that we had with Luke when he was that age. I think that Luke is helping to make Jack feel safe and will help to teach him what is expected of him. Its good that Luke has the opportunity to establish himself as the leader now, because there is a real possibility that Jack may grow to be bigger and stronger than Luke. If he does, we should have two good watch dogs at that point. I've always said that most burglars would run at the sight of a black Lab/Chow running towards them barking and growling. I suspect that adding a German Shepherd to that equation will just make them run that much quicker.

We have no immediate plans to bring bring any other cats or dogs to the property in the near future. Of course we hadn't planned on Jack showing up, so you never know. We could probably use a couple of outside cats to help with the mice and moles, but Luke does a decent job of that and I'm not sure that Kitty would even tolerate having more cats outside. I know she's never stand for another one living inside.

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