Last night, we invited Jenga into general population. After almost a month of group walks, trials of various combinations of dogs and cats we finally felt like everyone was ready. We were right. I can not express how relieved I am. If you know me, you know that what I was concerned about was not Jenga, but, our 12 year old grumpy old man, Rocco. I had been growing more confident that it would be okay and last night, conditions were optimal. My brother was here with us and the dogs are all familiar with him, Jenga has been a bit more mellow since her surgery and I was actually feeling brave enough to do it….so, I opened the gate and out she came.
As expected, Rocco snarked off at her a few times, but, Jenga proved herself to be excellent at reading his cues. This was the case on our walks, and I was happy to see it was the same indoors, off-leash. We let them sniff and mill about a bit and over the course of a few hours, everyone eventually settled into a spot. Jenga tried to engage Savannah in play, which, Savannah at 9 years old, was not all that interested in, but, when given a back off growl, Jenga did exactly that. The cats handled it well, too, and neither Trixie or Zooby seem particularly bothered by her walking amongst them. This is probably in part because the three of them had much conversation and sniffs through the gate.
This morning, Jenga showed her usual hesitation when presented with something new: the new this time being free to roam freely. Once she was reassured, she happily joined us in the living room. A little too happily for Rocco, who snarked off again, but, once again she handled it like a champ and backed off immediately. With that out of the way, the rest of the day has proceeded without incident. Jenga really seems very in tune with the residents and has maintained a pretty calm attitude all day. Her jumping has decreased dramatically, they have been able to do sit and paw and take treats side by side. It is fantastic.
Over time, I have become increasingly nervous when mixing dogs. Incidents at the dog park, Rocco’s grumpiness and my own tendency to be a nervous nellie have caused me to be a bit more cautious than necessary, at times. Talking to my classmates in The Academy for Dog Trainers, watching dogs interact at the shelter, learning more about body language and understanding behavior more have helped me feel more comfortable and last night really boosted my confidence.
So, for now…we have an integrated home. No bouncing back and forth between the bedrooms and the rest of the house. It makes things much easier…and more peaceful. No one feels left out. No one is anxious about when we are coming back. The best part, according to the cats, is that they have their room back. Even if they have to share it with Jenga’s leash 🙂
Jenga is much more a fan of her comfy bed when it’s in the living room 🙂