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Dot A. Sale

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The Dog Who Thinks She's A Cat
by Dot A. Sale   

Last edited: Tuesday, May 28, 2002
Posted: Tuesday, May 28, 2002

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How we got our dog Skye

The Dog Who Thinks She’s a Cat
By Dot Sale

When we lost our old dog Tatum after 15 years of companionship, just after adopting our cat Ebony, the thought of replacing him with another was a long and hard decision to make. In fact, it would take two years of subtle prodding on my part.

It wasn’t just the fact that we already had a cat in the house, either. We actually had two, the other being our daughter’s mature male cat Curbey, who barely tolerated the arrival of Ebony, a very feminine feline indeed. Add to that the addition of a pair of zebra finches in an ornate pedestal cage to our kitchen a few months later and things really got interesting. And therein lay the problem.

Not having much experience with cat and dog relationships before, we listened while armchair critics advised us that if you get a dog young enough, there wouldn’t be any problem teaching it how to live with cats - the cats would do it for you. We were also reluctant to take the plunge when faced with the possibility of a rambunctious puppy accidentally knocking over the birdcage. (We’d already had that happen once with the cats, but were able to rescue the birds before anything fatal happened to them.)

As a result, our acquisition of Skye – an eight-week-old white lab/husky cross - was by chance, not design. Skye and her littermates had been up for adoption at the Aylmer Sales Arena and brought home by a neighbour’s son, though they already had a small dog. Two weeks of unsuccessfully trying to house train her, and learning how big she would become, had resulted in news that she would be leaving the village permanently if we didn’t want her ourselves. How could we refuse – particularly when we looked into her beautiful blue eyes.

Skye is now over a year old and, while she’s still not perfectly trained, she is definitely unique. Far from keeping a respectful distance from the cats, she seems to have developed the notion that she’s one of them. She can’t get it through her thick head, though, that cats don’t like to be sniffed as much as dogs do, and regularly gets swatted by her declawed housemates when she overdoes it. They all share sleeping accommodations in the evening, but the maxim “squatters rights” often goes by the boards when her size wins out in the competition for her family’s affection.

Early on, Ebony took over the role of alarm clock and I rarely need to set one to get up on time. While Skye was in training, Ebony gave her a wide birth, but has since resumed her job. She has help, though, with Skye taking over too once Ebony has initiated the wakeup process. Unfortunately, there’s a big difference between a cat’s gentle paws and a dog’s, particularly a big one that’s vigorously pawing at your chest.
When Ebony takes a morning off, the service definitely goes downhill. It seems Skye doesn’t really know what to do on her own and often gives up entirely while I wait impatiently to get up.

But do I regret our decision to bring Skye home – not for a minute!

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