Archive | February, 2014

Perhaps the Twain Shall Meet?

19 Feb

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Our lives are currently, and quite happily, revolving around Rufus, who has proven to be a real charmer. He is full of playful energy and exhibits a happy-go-lucky attitude, even around Baxter and Lulu.

The kitties and Rufus have slowly been getting closer to each other physically. The day we brought Rufus home neither Baxter nor Lulu would dare enter the same room as the dog. They’d park themselves at quite a distance and simply stare at him, seemingly sizing him up and judging what danger he might pose.

Nowadays, the kitties spend most of their time perched on countertops, cabinets, or tables peering down at Rufus, looking like two furry but wary gargoyles. Baxter and Lulu have even ventured to walk across the floor near Rufus and noses have been pointed inches away from each other. Rufus really pays the kitties no mind but if he gets too close, Baxter or Lulu will hiss and swat (never making real contact though).

Even though the kitties have not welcomed Rufus with open arms (or paws?), I am really encouraged. The cats have not been alienated by the dog. Baxter is still my lap cat while I watch TV and Lulu still sleeps in the bed with us. I think our critters have made remarkable progress in such a short span of time — Rufus has only been with us for a week. Who knows what cat/dog relations may be like in a month or two?



(Mis)Adventures with Rufus

14 Feb

Rufus in the Snow
Brad and I have partitioned part of the house off, allowing Rufus access to the kitchen, the downstairs hallway and our bedroom. We used a room divider to block access to the living room and dining room but we should have been a bit more strategic in its placement. Sure, we blocked access to the living room and dining room, but the door to the upstairs rooms was wide open and still accessible. I never dreamed Rufus would venture up those stairs on his own, but that is exactly what he did the moment my back was turned. I went up to retrieve him but he most decidedly did not want to go back downstairs. I coaxed and cajoled but he was not about to budge. To make matters worse, Baxter and Lulu had climbed to the top of the stairs, watching and listening to the show, effectively helping to convince Rufus it was not a good idea to go downstairs. I finally resorted to leashing Rufus to take him downstairs, after having shooed Baxter and Lulu away. I’ve since repositioned the barrier to block access to the staircase as well.

I wish that had been the only drama of the day.

Later in the morning, I decided to take Rufus for a walk in our neighborhood, despite the fact that many of the sidewalks had not been cleared. I sensed he was yearning for some exercise and I myself enjoy nice long walks. We both set off in high spirits.

Rufus’ spirits were a bit too high for me. He tugged at that leash, pulling me reluctantly along at a pace faster than I felt safe on ice covered sidewalks. Our neighborhood is quiet and there were not many cars out on the road so I decided to abandon the sidewalk and walk in the middle of the road. It had been cleared of snow and was dry and there would be ample warning of a car’s approach for us to move off to the side.

And then I lost hold of Rufus’ leash.

I must have been shifting it from one hand to the other when it slipped from my gloved hand. I saw it fall to the ground as if in slow motion. But that dog was not walking in slow motion. He just kept trotting along turning his head this way and that, ever curious about his new surroundings. I tried to catch up to no avail. I called out his name and he ignored me. I don’t think he even knows what his name is yet.

We were going uphill and I was running out of steam, short of breath and beginning to panic. All I could think of were the words uttered by a shelter staff member: “If you let go of his leash, you will never get him to return to you.” I continued to call for Rufus in vain. Then I just plain yelled for help into the neighborhood. Maybe someone somewhere could help me corral my dog. I realize now how stupid that would have been if someone had responded. The dog surely would have run away if approached by a stranger.

Nearly at my wit’s end, I desperately sought a tactic to lure Rufus back. I thought, maybe if I throw a snowball in his direction it will distract him. I stopped and bent down to pick up some snow. Rufus stopped too. I walked slowly, cautiously, as quietly as possible towards him. I bent over and grabbed him gently and firmly and heaved a huge sigh of relief, ever thankful for the ambling nature of dogs. And oh so grateful that a car had not approached during our moments of separation.

We returned home and I nearly collapsed with exhaustion. I am sure I have never been so scared in my whole life. Today, Rufus’ owner learned some very good lessons quite the hard way. Now she is researching obedience classes so that he can learn some lessons as well.

Introducing Rufus

13 Feb

DSC_8841 DSC_8853After months of visiting local shelters and responding to ads for pet adoptions at Brad’s office we have finally succeeding in adopting a dog. He is a handsome one-year-old-ish Labrador Retriever/Beagle mix that we adopted from Howard County Animal Shelter. We met him for the first time last Saturday and were charmed so much by his sweet nature we immediately put in an application for his adoption. As luck would have it we were first in line for “Buckey,” as he was named by the shelter staff. On Monday afternoon I received a call asking us to come in for an interview and to schedule Buckey for neutering. The interview and visit with the vet were scheduled for Wednesday morning. That evening Brad picked up the newest member of our household from the vet and brought him home.

After meeting him for the first time we deliberated over names. Watson, Edgar, Hudson, Lazslo, Theo, Darwin, and Dante were in the running, but we ultimately decided upon Rufus, a name that fits his sweet laid-back nature.

The introduction to Baxter and Lulu went as well as could be expected. Rufus began to inspect his new surroundings while Baxter and Lulu puffed themselves up with horror and let loose with a couple of growls and hisses. Rufus paid them no mind, neither antagonistic towards nor intimidated by their presence.

We spent the evening with Rufus in the den watching the Olympics while the kitties kept their distance but stared intently at the newcomer in their midst. At bedtime we had a bit of difficulty convincing Rufus to enter his crate but, once in, he settled down and was quiet for the night. The kitties, who normally would be on the bed with us, opted to sleep elsewhere.

So far, so good today. The kitties are still keeping their distance but have not gone into hiding altogether. Lulu still follows me around, so long as Rufus isn’t near. And Baxter reassured me by giving my hair a quick grooming. We wish we could take Rufus for a walk but with the snow piled high on most sidewalks we must content ourselves with brief, but frequent, spells in the yard.

We are so happy to once again be a two-cat/one-dog household . It hasn’t been that way for more than a decade. We know we have our work cut out for us with Rufus. After all he is a one-year-old dog who only days ago was neutered. We are told he had been kept as an outside dog by a family with other dogs and children and most likely was not house trained. He had been surrendered to a shelter in Garrett County by his owners who said they had too many dogs. Well, too many dogs for them equals just the right amount of dog for us.