I have a big, black, scary-looking but ultimately sweet-as-pie dog. He’s a pit bull. Pit bulls get a bad rap – probably the worst rap of dogs. Frankie and his ilk are not allowed in Waterford where my boyfriend lives (chapter 3, article 3-79) and restricted in Hazel Park, where I live. There are a spate of other cities/townships in Michigan where he and his brethren are restricted if not outright banned. Lest we forget how dangerous and vicious these dogs are across the board, Rep. Tim Bledsoe proposed a statewide ban on not just pit bulls/Am Staffs/etc., but any dog that exhibits physical characteristics of pit bulls. Which is a damn lot of dogs. A damn lot of mixed breeds, or bully-esque breeds.

Now. Apart from my anti-BSL proselytizing (fyi, breed bans don’t work), my dog is a pretty good dude. He’s mellowed out a lot in the almost-four years I’ve had him, and we can confidently walk out on a loose leash as of late, sans the “contraptions” (prong collar, Gentle Leader halter, Gentle Leader martingale harness) we sometimes employ to keep his attention where it needs to be. What he lacks in attention span he makes up for in willingness and desire to please – common in his breed. He loves dogs, unless they are of the tiny, yapping, annoying variety, which I attribute to “like owner, like dog.” Because I hate those assholes.

Our MAJOR hurdle is cats. Cats, cats, cats. I’m not a cat person, although I’ve had several memorable ones through the years (Mr. and Mrs. Kitty, Baby Kitty (who was, surprisingly, not related to Mr. OR Mrs. K), Spooky, Izzy, Mabel). I just don’t “get” cats. They are either too aloof or too needy. Plus, I don’t so much like their fur. It feels weird. And they poop so publicly. Gross. Anyway, I could go on and on and on about my dislike of cats. What I came here to talk about is Frankie’s dislike of cats.

I’m kinda just guessing on this one, but I assume that he had to eat cats when he lived on the streets before I got him. I would probably eat cats, if I had to, and if I was a dog. Even if he didn’t ACTUALLY have to eat cats in his Before OhRebecca era, it’s somewhere in his biology to chase and try to eat small things, being a terrier and all. One of the aforementioned cats was actually ours for about 2 months before I realized we couldn’t make it work with him being tied up all the time and/or her being relegated to the bathroom all the time (she now lives happily with Mama OhRebecca, who is, if not an outright Cat Person, at least more of an across-the-board Animal Lover than I am).

Boyfriend (unfortunately?) has a cat, and since we are taking the leap and looking to move in together within the next few months, it’s been surmised that we have to somehow make the dog and cat tolerate each other (or, more likely, make sure to get a house with a basement so one or the other can have a whole “floor” to himself). We started the process by sequestering the cat in the second bedroom with his feline amenities, and bringing Frankie over. I’m not sure that Frank even realized the cat was THERE for a few days, until Adrian stuck his paw out under the door. Once or twice, Frank went at the door, scratching and biting and pawing at the wood. A spray bottle solved that problem, but also created the problem of him not wanting to go anywhere near that hallway – he will go through the kitchen to avoid going directly past the door. But – he stays away.

About a month or so ago, we had an “incident.” Long story short, Frank got into the second bedroom – not through his own brute force or anything of the sort – and a scuffle ensued. No one was hurt, except for Boyfriend with a cat-inflicted scratch. Cat’s feelings were hurt, but really, ehh. Frank was pretty stoked that he’d gotten to chase something and bark at it. Tensions were pretty high. We had a cool-down period, and I didn’t bring Frank over for a while after that, wanting both him and the cat to forget about the incident. I’ve started bringing him with me though, and a few weeks ago even got so bold as to leave Frankie alone for about 5 minutes on 3 occasions while I did laundry down the hall. He was perfectly behaved, by the way! One time, I even ordered him to lie down and stay while I ran into the cat’s room to change his water, and he succeeded.

Today was not the biggest test we will perform in the cat-dog integration, but it was a step. I’ve been hesitant to leave the apartment if Frank is here and the cat is here, because a 65-lb dog can do a lot of damage in a lot of ways, especially if there is a cat hiding in a room and he wants to eat it. We needed more water, and some meat for dinner, so I tentatively shut him in the bedroom while the cat was in the other bedroom and left to go do some errands. I was gone 45 minutes and fretting the whole time. Would there still be a cat when I got home? If there wasn’t a cat, would I still have a boyfriend? I’d given Frankie a peanut butter-filled bone before I left, but that probably took him all of four and a half minutes to work through. I found myself wishing he had a cell phone and opposable thumbs to work it so I could call and get an update on how he was feeling about being “home alone” in the same structure as a cat.

What I found when I got home were two still-closed doors, a cat oblivious to the fact that he was ‘being ignored,’ and a dog who was lying down patiently on the bed, just waiting for his momma to get home.

Step One: success. I won’t feel confident leaving the cat in the second bedroom and letting Frank have free roam of the rest of the house any time soon, but… puppy steps.

Puppy steps.

Anyone have any advice or well wishes about integrating a cat and a high-prey-drive dog together?
(as of right now, Big Mean Dog – who, coincidentally, hides at the sound of the doorbell, another instance of “like owner, like dog” – is sprawled out at my feet, being utterly Big and utterly Mean, of course)

Big Mean Black Dog, when I first got him - already showing signs of viciousness and utter uncontrollability