I’m allergic to cats. Prolonged contact with them makes my eyes water and starts me sneezing. That’s probably why we haven’t picked up one or two over the years. But the fact that we can’t have one means our CCI puppies have no preparation for Close Encounters of the Kitty Kind.

We’ve never been told that any of the dogs we raised were released because of going berserk in the presence of a feline, but we worry it could happen. The Oceanside campus reportedly is home to a surly cat named Bob who delights in tormenting the puppy trainees. We suppose that one day Bob will move on to the Land of Unlimited Catnip, but as far as we know, he’s still alive and snarling. So this time, raising Dionne, we’ve decided to be proactive about preparing her for any run-ins with him.

Our good friend Christy has two cats. One’s so shy she only emerges for Christy. But the other is a sturdy hunter who’s unfazed by canines. The other day we took Dionne over for an introduction to Max.

We found him relaxing next to an armchair. He didn’t bat at eye, as Steve led Dionne, on-leash to a few feet away from him, and it took a minute or so for her to realize that the gray smelly object in front of her was AN ANIMAL!!! 
An ALIEN ANIMAL!!!!!!!!!!!!

Still, she kept it together reasonably well, even when Steve reached out to pet Max. We could tell she wanted to tackle him.  For fun!!!!  But we decided not to push things by letting her off the leash.
She really wanted to play….

With Christy’s encouragement, we plan to return for additional desensitization sessions. We’re confident that dogs raised in cat-free environments can acquire feline friends. Our one great success story, Brando, who now lives in the Chicago suburbs with his wonderful family, is living proof of this:

Brando with one of the Zmysly family cats.  (Photo courtesy of Aimee Pierog-Zmysly.)

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