A Quiet Day

It was sunny (and cold and windy) again today so I took Sidka out for more playtime in the backyard, this time she wanted to come in after half an hour. She was very active yesterday and seemed tired today, so while she got her usual walks and indoor play time as well, she was more in a mood to sleep. That worked out well as we curled up and watched the two NFL championship games on TV.

We left the door to the basement open all day long so the cats could come and go as they please. Scout didn’t come down at all, which is a change from the previous days, but that’s OK as we’re letting each of them adapt to the dog at their own pace. Emma’s fascination with Sidka continued as she hovered nearby much of the afternoon.

But it was little Sam who made the biggest stride forward, going from napping a few feet away from Sidka yesterday to just inches and even millimeters today. On two different occasions, he burrowed under the quilt and curled up in my lap while Sidka was nestled beside me. At one point Sidka even had her head resting on his body with only the blanket separating the two. He was purring so he couldn’t have been too unhappy with the arrangement.

On another occasion, he was sleeping on the other side of the couch when Sidka jumped up and filled the gap between the two of us. His eyes got really wide for a moment until he realized she too wanted a nap and soon he was sleeping peacefully. He’s still really nervous around her, don’t get me wrong, but I was surprised to see him get so close so soon.

Action Pose!

Our dog Ellie catches a tennis ball in her mouth as we play in our backyard in Portland, Oregon

A week ago we went to the Humane Society and brought Sidka home. She has readily adapted to our household and all its denizens, she seems quite happy and healthy and loving and good-natured and smart and patient and playful and we keep waiting for the other shoe to drop but so far she’s just been a real sweetheart.

We’ve whittled our list of names down to two likely candidates, Darcy and Zira, which keep with our tradition of choosing names from literature. I read on the internet (so it must be true!) that Darcy comes from the Gaelic word for dark which goes well with her black fur, and of course Darcy is a character or two from a mutual favorite of ours, Pride & Prejudice. Zira comes from the chimp in Planet of the Apes (book and movie) that discovered our man hero could talk. Our dog can’t talk but she is an excellent typist.

Emma has suggested another name — since she has black fur like her, she wants to call her Emma II. I pointed out that since the dog was born long before her that really the dog should be Emma I and she should be Emma II, but she thinks it ought to go by the order of the arrival into our home. My wife agrees with her but I think it’s just the womenfolk sticking together, it may have been a mistake to adopt another girl as now Sam and I are outnumbered 4 to 2. They’ve got veto power! My wife was quick to point out that they’ve always had it.

It was sunny if cold and windy today, so after a much-needed haircut I walked home and took Sidka into the backyard for an hour’s worth of fetch. What a wonder it is to have a pet actually bring her toys back when you throw them! Playing with the tennis ball seems to be her favorite game followed by the rope toy. We then came inside for even more playing and then it was time for more cat bonding time.

All three cats were anxious to get down to the basement today, every time I’d go up I’d have to fend them off as I opened the door, no besieged city has ever been so well-defended. When it was time I opened the door and all three came down. Sidka was being good so as I test I took off her leash and let her go. She didn’t chase anyone, at first the cats kept their distance so Sidka and I played some more as they watched and got a feel for her movements.

Everybody got a nose touch in today with Scout again setting the record for the longest nose touch, she holds both first and second place by a wide margin. Emma wins the award for most time spent near Sidka, she’s rather fascinated with her, while Sam wins the award for actually falling asleep with her just a few feet away. Also for eating the closest to her, as if we had any doubt who would win that contest.

Sidka is definitely interested in the cats but has clearly been around cats before as she doesn’t move and scare them when they come in for their nose touches, and when she once got too close for comfort for Sam he swatted her on the nose and she immediately backed off and came over by me. The cats aren’t comfortable with her yet but today was excellent progress.

Sidka Meets the Queen

Not too much to report on the dog front, I called my wife when I got off the train last night so they walked down to meet me halfway. What a happy girl she was to meet me — she being the dog 😉

Sidka met the cats again last night while I held her and they mostly milled about at close and not-so-close range. The big difference from the night before is that the Queen came down to greet her new subject, I told Sidka that if she won Scout over the others would soon follow. All three are still in the curious-but-cautious stage, when treats were brought out all three came up pretty close to the dog.

Sidka is still in her curious-and-let’s-go-meet-them stage so I’ve been keeping her close at hand on her leash. No one is showing any signs of aggression, not even a hiss from the cats, so things are looking good on that front. Even the introduction of Sam and Emma to Scout brought some hisses. Not to mention the how-could-you-betray-me-like-this withering looks from Scout that make me shudder to this day.

I fell asleep early last night and then woke up at 2 a.m. and couldn’t get back to sleep, so I turned on the light to read. I was shocked to see Scout separated from Sam by a few inches, she remedied this immediately by snuggling up to him, he draped one arm across her face and another around her body and soon they were asleep again. It took me a lot longer to follow them this time.

Oh To Be a Cat

So how traumatized are the cats by meeting the dog for the first time?

Scout is sleeping upstairs on my side of the bed, one of her favorite spots. Sam is sleeping in the heated bed next to me, one of his favorite spots. Emma is sleeping on my feet like she has been all week.

Oh to be a cat!

Since my wife has been sleeping with the dog in the basement this week, I’ve been reading in bed to help myself fall asleep. Last night while I was reading, Sam jumped into my lap and then Scout followed and curled up tight against him. She lay across him and put her head under his so that he would lick her head and clean her ears.

I don’t think he knows how much it means to her, Templeton started doing this for her when we first brought her home as a little kitten. In the early days she’d look like a drowned rat after he worked her over, less so as she grew older, the ritual continuing up until he died. But maybe Sam does have a sense of it, he started purring in full voice and that started Scout’s motor so I put down my book and listened to the harmony.

Sam wasn’t sleepy and eventually got up and Scout moved down to my feet. Emma then came up and curled up beside her, Scout fell asleep almost instantly and her loud snoring didn’t keep Emma from following her into slumber.

I turned off the light and joined them.

First Contact

Our dog Ellie on her second day with us, showing a little of the gray fur underneath her mouth

Sidka has mostly black fur save for a tiny white stripe on her chest and white around her mouth, I suspect when she was born she must have wiped her mouth on the ground before the paint was dry. Speaking of paint, she also has some white fur that is only temporary thanks to some paint splotches on her head and tail. The reason her previous owners listed for giving her up was “Moving” so they were probably painting the house to get ready to move and a certain someone got a little too close …

We are going to change her name from Sidka but haven’t finalized the name from our pool of candidates. We’ve crossed a few off the list, I had originally suggested Willow but little Sam was horrified and pointed out that Old Man Willow in The Lord of the Rings eats hobbits. I didn’t quite see the problem until he reminded me that he was named after a hobbit. Good point little one!

Today was the first introduction of Sidka to the cats. After taking her for a long walk and run and playing ball with her, I put her leash on and held her close while my wife opened the door to the basement. Scout wanted no part of the proceedings but Sam and Emma did eventually creep down, moving in super-slo-mo as they crept down from the top of the steps to the landing to the bottom of the steps and finally into the den. Sam was first to approach with the fur on his tail spread wide, he rubbed noses with Sidka before backing off again. First contact! He and Emma later approached but were intrigued by Sidka’s bushy tail, when Sam went in for a sniff Sidka turned towards him and both cats bolted under the couch at full speed. They watched from a safe distance until we decided to call it a night.

Not bad for a first introduction!

Passing Grades

Our dog Ellie on her second day with us after we adopted her in January 2009

One of the good things about adopting Sam and Emma during Christmas break last year was not only being able to spend a lot of time with them to get them properly introduced to the household, but also having lots of free time to take pictures. This isn’t the case with Sidka, I worked from home today to see how she would do when left alone and that didn’t leave time for pictures. This one is another from yesterday, for some reason she looks like a young puppy to me in this picture but she’s definitely not so little.

Sidka had a lot of passing grades today, she had her vet exam bright and early and was not only friendly to the staff but so far seems in good health. She also did quite well being left alone during the day, technically I was here but I worked in my office and only checked on her a few times during the day. She slept peacefully downstairs when no one was there to keep her company and didn’t have any accidents. Scout was whispering words of encouragement down through the heating vents so I’m sure that helped.

There are a few things we’ll need to work with her on, such as obeying commands when she’s excited, tugging a bit on the leash, and thinking that every dog and person will want to meet her. But I am amazed at both how readily she has adapted to life here and how sweet she is, her previous family obviously took good care of her. She was kind of nervous at the shelter but at home we haven’t experienced the adjustment problems we expected. Knock on wood of course, the acid test is the introduction of the cats. Given how well she’s doing I think we may try that this weekend with some limited exposure before then. I don’t know what we’re going to do with feeding the cats, we used to just leave food out for them so we’ll either have to feed them in high places or start feeding them on a schedule too (somewhere little Sam is making a face of sheer horror at the thought).

She’s also warming up to me more although she obviously is still infatuated with my wife. When we were playing ball she started bringing it to me most of the time instead of always taking it to my wife, so she’s a quick study. She also showed a funny little trick today in that instead of always walking the tennis ball back to me and dropping it, she would stop a ways away and toss it to me with her mouth.

Her aim isn’t perfect but I dare say she could play for the Mariners 😉

One Tired Pup

Our dog Ellie sleeping on a plush alligator

When my wife woke up this morning, during those first few seconds before you’re fully awake, she thought I smelled so bad that she was going to ask me to start showering before coming to bed. Then she remembered that she had slept downstairs with Sidka and I was upstairs with the cats. Now fully awake, she realized that during the night Sidka had climbed into bed and curled up with her.

She’s long had a variety of stink-based nicknames for me but until now I had always assumed they were in jest …

Sidka had a good first full day with us. She’s definitely fixated on my wife but she’s warming up to me, she even came over and curled up beside me on the couch while I watched the NFL playoffs. I’m not too worried, I had to win over Templeton once upon a time too.

We all took a nice long walk today and Sidka was the perfect lady with the dogs and children she met. She didn’t even try to chase the squirrels in the park so that’s another good sign. Scout and Emma snuck down during the day but were evicted in short order. Sidka and I took another walk tonight in the rain but we didn’t meet anyone interesting this time around.

We also played with her new toys with the rope toy and tennis balls the clear favorites. And as you can see, after all that, she was plumb tuckered. She goes to the vet tomorrow morning for a checkup and then I’m going to work from home to ease her introduction to being left alone while we’re at work.