Sunday, March 21, 2010

Unintended Consequences

Before we adopted Argos, we did a lot of research on greyhounds - we were very concerned about their high prey drive, since we have three cats and of course wanted to keep them safe.  And we found out what every greyhound owner knows:  some greyhounds have a high prey drive and cannot live in a home with cats or small dogs, but some do not.  Argos was "cat-tested" by the adoption group that we got him through, and was considered to be cat-safe.

A judgment that was accurate, by the way.  So if you're considering adopting a greyhound, and have small animals, LISTEN to the adoption group that you get him/her through.  They know what they're talking about!

That doesn't mean that we just left everything to chance, though.  We did everything that they tell you to do in the "introducing your greyhound to household animals" chapters of the books that they have out there on adoption.  He was (and still isn't) left completely unsupervised with the cats, and the first few weeks we had him, he wasn't even allowed to roam the house without one of us; he was tethered to one or the other with his leash.  The first week, he wasn't even in the same room with the cats without his muzzle.  Just to be sure.  And if he even looked at the cats with his ears pitched forward, we would gently tug on the leash to get his attention, and say "No Kitty." 

Gentle enough training, which is what we were aiming for, because we'd been warned from multiple people/books/websites/whatevers that greyhounds are very sensitive, and speaking to them too harshly frightens and upsets them.  Greyhounds are also smart, and from most reports that we've heard, eager to please you.  Argos is certainly both of these.

Which means that he took to the "No Kitty" training in ways that I never imagined.

Most of the time, if he comes into the room and sees one of the cats, he'll freeze, and either leave the room, deliberately turn and look at the wall, or even turn his back to her.  But sometimes, he doesn't know what to do... like today.  I was cleaning the bathroom, and he was gallumphing around the house trying to find me.  (I could hear his collar jingling as he did a room-by-room search for me.)  It was only a matter of time before he figured out where I was, and sure enough, he ran to the bathroom to come in to greet me.  Except that he realized at the last split-second that Annie, our little black kitty, was standing in the bathroom doorway.

The poor guy!  His eyes widened, and he slammed on the brakes - locked his front legs up, head to the ceiling, trying to stop.  (And he did stop without impact.)

Annie stood there brazenly and stared up at him.  She wasn't letting him into the bathroom with me for anything.  He stood in the hall, trying not to stare at her (since I don't want him to) but wanted desperately to get in to me.  Hah!  I took pity on him and joined him in the hall.

We may need to establish some balance eventually... for now, I'm okay with him having a little bit of fear when it comes to interacting with the kitties.  But it looks like Annie, anyway, is starting to take advantage of that.  I definitely don't want for him to be bullied by three bossy feline "sisters" all of the time.  I think we'll watch this and see how it develops.  He and Annie might be moving closer to an actual friendship.  They were actually both on the bed with me this weekend, even touching one another, and aside from Argos acting a little nervous about having a sadistic, unpredictable, clawed creature purring loudly right behind his head, I think it went rather well.

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