Thursday, March 31, 2011

Cat Encounters at Best Friends

One of the things that impresses me so much about Best Friends Animal Society is that it isn't just a shelter. Yes, they give the animals a temporary home, but they also do anything and everything in their power to train the animals and make sure they can be adopted into good homes. One of their programs is the puppy training - and part of the puppy training is a process called Cat Encounters.

Heather was excited but gentle as Sugarplum was lifted down.
Tamara Dormer, one of the dog trainers in Best Friends' Dogtown, brings her personal cat Sugarplum and introduces her to the young dogs to see how they react. The adoption specialists can then make recommendations on whether or not the dog can be in a house with cats. I sat outside the room while she introduced Sugarplum to a cattle dog. That one didn't go well; the dog tried to grab Sugarplum's neck. Tamara let Sugarplum relax on top of the fridge for a while as we talked, then she brought in Heather, a 9-month-old Doberman mix puppy.

Heather invites Sugarplum to play!
Sugarplum was a real pro. She started on top of the fridge, but when Tamara lifted her down she didn't hiss or claw. Heather thought Sugarplum was fascinating but was in no way vicious. She mainly just wanted to play, and she was easily distracted from the chase. In other words, Heather has a puppy's energy and might get a little rambunctious, but Tamara was able to say that she would deal well in a house with cats.

The ultimate sign of approval: The nose sniff! Look at Heather's tail go!
And Heather definitely is a charmer. I am a dedicated cat person and as a general rule I don't deal well with dogs. But I was seriously tempted to take her home. At one point she jumped onto the couch next to me and rolled over with her head on my lap, looking at me upside down with those big brown eyes. Then she gave me a quick doggy kiss - and I spent the next 20 minutes cleaning nose prints off the camera lens. And apparently her charm worked on someone else as well because she now has a new home. She still has some siblings at Best Friends, though. You can meet Happy, Haze, Harpo and Hopi online.

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