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Twas Few Days After Christmas And…

by Barry KuKes
Hopefully, you are still enjoying your holiday and will continue to do so well into the new year. Maybe, you are enjoying the company of a new furry friend during this time as well, and life as you knew it has changed a bit. If you happen to have a new cat or kitten in your home, you now realize they may require lots of attention. Or maybe you adopted a cat that is keeping its distance, but regardless your home is different with another living animal inhabiting a little piece of it.

Patience is a virtue, especially when it applies to new family pets. Let your new pet explore, test their boundaries, make a mistake, or two so they learn the house rules and adjust to their new environment. Like people, animals need time to accumulate to new surroundings. They may appear to be settled in, yet only time will tell. In the middle of the night, a strange noise that you recognize as your neighbors’ truck starting up at 4:45 a.m. because they need to go to work is foreign to kitty and could be very frightening. Giving your new pet comfort and reassurance as they adjust is highly recommended.

Hopefully, a few weeks from now, kitty will be sitting on your lap, purring away and filled with contentment. Now, if your furry friend happens to be a new puppy, that’s a whole different situation. As I have mentioned in the past, my wife pet sits for quite a few clients. One customer recently acquired an eight-month-old Golden Retriever from an out-of-state rescue. A male, he joins a family of two female Goldens already in the household. Not to mention our dog Bentley often visits the girls, so they are altogether quite the full house.

The puppy is precisely what you would expect from an eight-month-old Golden; full of energy, wants to play all the time, loves to jump on top of you, and gives lots of kisses. Luckily, the next youngest dog is just under two years old, and she can keep up with the pup just fine, which is great because if my wife had to entertain this young whippersnapper, she would have her hands full.

When introducing a new animal into the mix of existing pets, there is a getting to know you period for all animals involved. There may be a tussle here and there, but animals will usually work it out without getting injured. Some growling and possible snapping, but these are just warnings to the other animals that says, “Hey, I don’t like that, and leave me alone.” They will all test their boundaries with each other, and within a couple of days, they understand. A pecking order will be established, and the alpha dog will take their position in the pack.

Usually, the true alpha dog is the human owner. All the pets will respect and acknowledge this because they realize who feeds them and takes them out. I am the alpha dog in my household, even though my wife spends more time with our dogs. It depends on personalities and relationships. Our dog Max is definitely my wife’s boy, while Bentley is daddy’s boy. Ironically, my wife rescued Max, and I rescued Bentley, so maybe they respect that. Rescued animals seem to know who saved them and are grateful for that person.

If you need help understanding your new pet’s behavior, search and/or for help. There are thousands of resources and links to hundreds of how-to videos. The internet is a wonderful thing when it works. Another wonderful thing is adopting, instead of shopping. Please adopt, don’t shop. Happy Holidays!

Barry KuKes is the Community Out- reach Director for the Halifax Humane Society. You can reach Barry at 386. 274.4703, ext. 320, or BarryK@halifax