Juniper and Ekko: Learning to Cuddle

Juniper and Ekko have been progressing to cuddling
Not uncommon to find the pair near each other

You never know what will happen when you combine cats and dogs into a single household. Will they be friends? Will you only see vague tolerance? Or will you end up with a home broken by fighting? There’s no way to see into the future. Even when fosters or rescues assure you a pet tolerates another species, chaos can ensue. Personalities clash for the smallest (or biggest) reasons. We were reasonably sure Juniper and Ekko would accept one another, based on the dynamic present in the house. We just didn’t expect things to turn out the way they have.

Cats and Dogs

The internet and social media are FULL of images of cats and dogs snuggled together. One “quick peek” will lead you down an endless rabbit hole of adorableness. (Seriously, go looking at your own risk) The imagery usually features puppies and kittens, but adults go into the mix, too.

And it’s entirely possible to mix species in one home. Provided you do your homework:

  1. Research your breeds. Not every dog breed works well with cats and vice versa. To be perfectly honest, greyhounds aren’t ideal with smaller pets. Sighthounds chase small furry creatures. But Project Racing Home (and most grey rescues) keeps a few cats around to “test” the dogs that come through. If they’re indifferent to the kitties, they earn a mark as “cat friendly.” And that’s what set Juniper apart. It’s NOT a guarantee, though.
  2. Introduce your pets SLOWLY. If you throw a cat and a dog together – no matter how tolerant – you will have problems. Pet introductions are a mandatory step, even for dogs and dogs or cats and cats.
  3. Offer positive reinforcement. It’s an uncertain time, and your pets need all the encouragement they can get. We ensured Juniper and Ekko got extra love, treats, and attention. (And, of course, so did the other Minions. I’m just singling out the pair for this post)

Juniper and Ekko: “I Think I Like You”

Ekko knew what dogs were, courtesy of his foster home. But he didn’t know JUNIPER. Greyhounds are relatively uncommon in the area. And a cat will NOT associate one dog as the same as another. So he came it puffed up, hissing, and uncertain about her.

We watched him stalk around the house, watching her. (For her part, Juniper ignored him after her initial interest. A hissing cat was to be avoided)

When she didn’t react to his bluff and bluster, he started to get interested. He watched her go outside, peeking out the window to keep tabs on her. And then he decided he just might like this leggy creature who sought out comfort the same way he did.

Juniper and Ekko started their SLOW march toward friendship.

Of course, they didn’t want anyone to know they were setting aside their differences. So they kept things casual. Sharing the couch was possible because they could keep one another at a distance.

Sometimes we saw they drop a pillow or one of the stuffed toys between them as a “boundary line.” It was progress, though. (And better than the silent standoff they waged over Juniper’s orthopedic bed – which Ekko used as a trampoline)

Juniper and Ekko on opposite sides of the couch

“You’re Not So Bad”

Now, all of the feline Minions tolerate Juniper. Tonks comes the closest to being buddies as she was the youngest when the pup entered the house. But none of them snuggle with her. They sleep on her beds, touch noses with her, and maybe rub against her legs. That’s it. (And occasionally steal a bite of her food)

Ekko had grander plans.

Ekko creeping closer to Juniper

Greyhounds have next to no hair. But their skin is velvety smooth. And they put out plenty of heat. (It’s that metabolism) So they’re fantastic snuggle companions.

And Ekko wanted to curl up with all of that soft warmth.

We walked into the den to find Juniper and Ekko gradually getting closer and closer. SHE wasn’t too sure about the invasion of her space. But she also didn’t react to his presence. We were four months into Ekko’s introduction to the household, but that didn’t mean things couldn’t do wrong.

So we watched closely.

Amusingly, their first connection was butt to butt. (Actually, as Juniper can be gassy, it might have been the safest) Ekko looked quite smug at his success. He’d made contact with his doggie sister. And they stayed that way, content to share the couch and their fuzziness.

But was that enough for Ekko? Not by a long shot.

Ekko wanted a REAL snuggle. And he was patient enough to keep trying. He slowly maneuvered his way into place.

And last week? He managed to get into prime cuddle position. He was so proud of himself. (We assured Juniper this was normal cat behavior)

Snuggle achieved

Juniper and Ekko: Cuddle Buddies

Juniper and Ekko have reached a special arrangement in their relationship. It’s unique among the Minions in the household. And the couch is Cuddle Central. And though it’s strange to our little greyhound, she’s learning what it means to share a home with a cat who genuinely loves her and wants to spend time with her.

Even when it means extra love and attention:

Maximum cuddle achieved!

Tell me that isn’t the cutest thing you’ve ever seen!

And not bad, considering how things started back in January.

It just goes to show how well things CAN work when you take the time to do your homework and introduce your pets properly. There’s nothing wrong with mixing breeds or even species. But it’s not something to do on a whim.

And there’s no guarantee you’ll always get the same results.

But if you’re ready to work? You just might get some ADORABLE results.

Author: Andria Kennedy

I speak the thoughts rattling around in my brain, sharing topics I think other people want and should hear (or are afraid to talk about themselves). I bring my personality and quirky state of mind to everything I write; serious topics shouldn't be devoid of humor. That includes my blog and freelance work (part of my charm). I've been writing for as long as I can remember. It's a source of solace and enjoyment for me. I'm lucky enough to call what I love my career - so it's NOT work! I live in Virginia with the Minions (four cats and a Greyhound) and my wonderful husband, who ensures I stay fed - no cereal for dinner - and as close to sane as I can get.

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