Adding a shelter dog to the family

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-16-2008
Adding a shelter dog to the family
5
Wed, 12-21-2011 - 11:16am

Hi all!

My husband has agreed that I can finally get a dog as my "Christmas" present this year - though I'll more than likely choose one sometime in January.

That said, I have two indoor/outdoor cats, and a 15.5 month old son. One cat has never really been around dogs. He's fearful of new things, but eventually comes around. His favorite person in the world (next to me) is my son. They enjoy fighting over my lap, messing with the others feet (the cats nibbles the baby's toes, and the baby "tickles" the cat's paws). Seriously just a tolerant cat who I've had since he was 6 weeks old, and he's 2.5 now. The other was a shelter cat we brought home in September. She was adopted as a kitten, then relinquished back to the shelter after 10 months because she meows too much. I don't know her history with dogs at all, but she's finally coming around to our other cat and the baby.

As for my son, he's been around multiple dogs. We have friends with an airdale/chow/? mix, others with a boxer/rottie mix. My mom has 5 feists. He has no fear of them being near his face (though I don't encourage licking), no fear of barking or them jumping. He barks back. We also leave very close to our local humane society, so we visit once a week, so he's exposed to different dogs.

So, all that backstory to ask, what's the best way to select a dog that fits our family? The HS is ok with me bring Peter to meet the dogs first, so I'm less worried about him. He won't be left unsupervised with a dog, regardless. I'm more worried about the cats. They do have a screened in deck to escape to outside, and doors can be closed inside to block off part of the house. A small dog is out; my mom has had 3 litters in the last 18 months, and my husband was anti-small dog. Otherwise, I would have had one of them in a heartbeat. I grew up with a Chesapeake Bay Retriever and a Bloodhound, so I'm more comfortable with bigger dogs.


Also, what age is best? I tend to gravitate toward the adults, just because everyone wants a puppy. But then I wonder if a younger dog would be easier to raise in our household right now.

Sorry for the novel; I just really want to make sure we make the right choice for us, and for the dog. Pets are forever in my mind, so this isn't something I want to jump in to without having done the proper research (hence the reason I don't have the black and tan that was available a few weeks ago!).

by sara photo sigbysara.jpg
iVillage Member
Registered: 01-03-2001
Thu, 12-22-2011 - 8:25am

I know that, of my three cats, one is extremely tolerant of dogs (she considers them retarded cats, I think, based on her bahvior towards teh two who have visited us in the past --- she's wierd enough to consider Puperoni treats and rawhide chews as a treat!) while the other two run and hide when a dog is in the house (and his and puff up like pufferfish when they encounter the neighbor's Westie, even with a door between them - they do the same wotih other people and with other cats as well). And as far as I know, none of them were raised with dogs, so I think it's a matter of cat personality and adaptablility on their part.

I think that a lot of no-kill shelters have some idea as to how an adoptable dog is around kids, other dogs and even cats, so asking staff to only show you cat-tolerant and kid tolerant dogs would be a first step.

I'm no expert here (DH doesn't want a dog in this house!), but I would think that a laid back and calm adult dog would be best, which might well rule out a puppy since they can be so playful and rambunctious. This might put off the cats, especially if the puppy is an in-your-face kind of pup, loud and fast and a little rough in play.

And once you've made your pick, go about introducing teh dog to the cats just like you would introduce a new cat to them... careful, slow with room for the cats (and the dog) to call their own "safe" places while they get used to each other.



CL for "

Community Leader
Registered: 11-21-2001
Thu, 12-22-2011 - 12:08pm

Hi Liz....and Welcome.

Laura
iVillage Member
Registered: 02-16-2008
Thu, 12-22-2011 - 1:11pm
Thanks for the welcome and advice, Carol and Laura!

I spoke with our shelter about how to choose (or be chosen by) a dog who would work well with the cats. I was told that an owner surrender may have that information, but that they couldn't know with any that were strays. It seems that most of their foster homes are cat-free as well. In her words "We can't guarantee the dog won't kill your cats." - Yeah, not so reassuring. She also said that dogs instinctively know to be gentle with kids. That may be true, but doesn't make me feel better.

Either way, the cats have a screened in deck 4 feet off the ground that they can escape to. The dog will have his/her own area as well. Even know, the cats split up the house and don't share rooms. Everyone will have an escape.

There is a lab/hound mix being fostered with a cat, but she may be too smart for me. She's getting fostered because she figured out how to open the playyard gates at the shelter. She's supposedly very gentle, so we'll probably try to meet her.

I do have to say, I love our shelter. They aren't completely no-kill, but tend to only euthanize for severe illness or behavioral issues (dogs with long bite histories and such). A couple weeks ago, they had a cat weekend and adopted out 125 cats - every one they had in the shelter, and lots of the foster babies as well. Dog fees are on a sliding scale based on the type of dog (hounds are less expensive than popular toy breeds, etc), and cats are always fee waived for the second, and set your on fee for any over 6 months. They truly just want to find good homes for all. :)
by sara photo sigbysara.jpg
iVillage Member
Registered: 02-16-2008
Fri, 01-13-2012 - 10:43am

Thanks again for the advice, ladies! We adopted Heather, an adult Plott hound, on New Year's Eve. I spent the two days before we brought her home visiting with her. It took her a good week to wag her tail, but she's an aboslute riot now! I haven't laughed so hard in ages! The house next door is a vacation rental with a fenced front yard, so we have permission to use it anytime she wants so off-leash time. Thank goodness, because she's quick.

I do have to say that I've never had a dog who refused treats before. She takes them from me, and then just drops them or buries them. She was an owner surrender due to costs, and I fear that she knows what it's like to be hungry, so she hides things for later.

by sara photo sigbysara.jpg
Community Leader
Registered: 11-21-2001
Mon, 01-16-2012 - 12:40pm

She is just beautiful!!!

Laura