by TERESA MASK
My husband already had a great girl in his life when we started dating.
And I had a guy I was head-over-heels for.
But we were determined to make it work.
We introduced them once the two of us were engaged . . . and whoever
said dogs and cats can't eventually become friends, obviously never
met Pica and Brody.
The night they were to meet, I loaded Brody - my striking year-old
brown, black and white tabby - in the car and headed to Ron's apartment.
After being reassured that Pica, a playful 6-year-old black Lab mix,
wouldn't mistake my Brody for a rabbit she'd chase and bite, I opened
When I adopted Brody, he came with a note that read: "Loves
dripping water. Hates dogs."
Still, I was not prepared for the loud hiss that came from his tiny
mouth after seeing his future roommate. Brody's back arched high
and hair literally shot out from his body.
As I scooped him up, his limbs flailing, I had serious doubts whether
our four-legged friends would hit it off as well as the two of us
So the research began.
Some people said it took years - years we didn't exactly have - for
their animals to begin tolerating each other. Others were resigned
to the fact that their pets would never happily coexist. There had
to be a better way.
A quick online search indicated that throwing them together as we
did was a major no-no.
But it also gave me the tools I needed to
come up with our 3-week merger plan.
I was so confident it would work that Ron and I went ahead and got
When Ron and Pica moved in with Brody and me, we put our plan into
action. And it worked - so well that our friends constantly comment
on how amazed they are that our furry friends get along.
We used what we called the scent, sight and touch approach.
Rather than throw them together, we first let them get used to the
smell of the other without allowing a face-to-face encounter. During
Week 2, the pets finally were allowed in the same room together.
And in the last week, they were monitored as Brody was allowed to
approach Pica, who was on a short leash.
Alone at last
The first time we left the animals alone together I was a bit nervous
that one of them would get hurt. But we returned and everybody was
in one piece.
We've had just one scare since blending our family: Pica had major
surgery after swallowing one of Brody's small toys.
Other than that, things have been smooth. They take turns sleeping
in the other's bed, and Pica has taught Brody that if he sits at
our feet during mealtime, he might be lucky enough to get a scrap.
Three years after their first encounter, Brody, on occasion will
give Pica a "pat, pat, pat" on the head when he wants to
play. And while there is no hissing and no protruding claws, it's
annoying enough to elicit a small growl from Pica.
In moments of tenderness, Brody rubs against Pica and she'll lick
They certainly do more than tolerate each other. I'd venture to say
they are buddies . . . passing the time together when their owners
are putting in long hours at work.
Now we have a new challenge: a baby, due this fall. So it's back
to the books to ensure that Pica and Brody accept our new family
member as quickly and easily as they did each other.
• Put away cat toys. Dogs can easily swallow them.
• Put cat food on a shelf, where the cat has access, but not the
dog. Ingredients in the food can be harmful to canines.
• Dogs like the taste of cat litter, but it is not good for them.
Make sure the dog cannot access the litter. Keep it in the basement or
other place she can't enter.
• Give all your animals individual attention and exercise daily.
• Allow your pets to see you playing with the other, and if you can
. . . try to get them to play together.
• Scold an animal if it appears he is trying to harm the other.
The Infinite Cat Project
Presented by Mike Stanfill, Private Hand