Making Friends – May Sanctuary Update
It’s not always easy making friends. I’m sure many of you have experienced this at some point in your life. You’re in a new, strange place. You’re not sure of the rules. Everyone seems a bit tense. You find yourself putting up your guard and feeling the need to protect yourself. This can very much be what happens for dogs and cats that have their worlds turned upside down when the home and family life they’ve known ends and they find themselves at the sanctuary. Something we consider a core part of our work here is to provide these pets with a safe, secure environment where they can build the confidence to make friends with others of their kind, if that’s something they want. And if it’s not something they want, we still help them learn that the presence of another dog or cat nearby is not a reason to become overwhelmed by insecurity. The process is very different between the dogs and cats, but equally valuable for both.
Due to many contributing factors in the wider dog world, we get fewer and fewer dog social dogs every year here at the sanctuary and the reactions can vary widely. Some dogs put up an awful racket when they see other dogs. Some just stare with fraught tension. Some can be around other dogs, but not share a home with them. And some dogs have definite preferences for which other dogs they’re willing to interact with. Whatever the case may be, we have two goals for them: to be able to engage in the activities that make them happy, and to be well prepared for the world they will see when they go to their forever home.
The first step to fixing any problem is to know the nature and extent of the problem. So every dog here, soon after they arrive, goes through exercises to see what their reactions to other dogs are. Then the team can start putting together a plan for them. That may involve the dog engaging in training when they see another dog at a great distance. Then we can gradually reduce that distance and help the dog get more reinforcement for remaining calm. Or maybe we try a tandem dog walk, where the dogs can walk closely side-by-side and get used to each other’s presence while remaining active and engaged with their environment. And sometimes we do even get to the pointing of letting dogs play together. It’s wonderful fun to see and makes those dogs who enjoy it very happy.
For cats, these interactions are even more delicate. Cat social structure is very tricky to navigate, and cats are often highly resistant to change. As well, given that the cats are entirely indoors, there is no way to utilize space and distance as you can with dogs outside. But when we see signals that two cats may do well together and enjoy each other’s company, we have ways to gently gauge their comfort levels through doors, screens, or other barriers. Even after we find that multiple cats are okay sharing the same area, managing food, play time, and personal space remains crucial to successful relationships. Currently, in the lower level of Sebastian House, Wallace and Totti, Niles, Penny, Elsie, and Josie all cohabitate, even though they all came from different homes. Our staff works hard to manage all of the practical and social concerns of the setup, such as cats that eat different therapeutic diets, cats that require lots of handling for their medical care, and cats that sometimes get on each other’s nerves, such as when Elsie isn’t interested in Penny’s boisterous play, or when Niles is too much for Wallace. It’s definitely a project that requires lots of effort, but it’s worth it to see those adorable kitty cuddles.
Of course, the most important thing about a friend is that it’s someone you can count on. Whenever things go sideways, or the bottom drops out of your plans, or when you’re in real need, a friend is someone you can rely on to do their best to help you out. So when us fluffy types need a friend, when we’re in dire straits and need some help to get back on our four feet, we couldn’t ask for better friends than the staff and volunteers at the Our Companions sanctuary. Some of us need special medical care, some of us need lots of attention and support, some of us need patience and understanding, but all of us need a safe and caring place to heal and to thrive. You all are the best friends a fur kid in need could ask for, and we’re ready and waiting to show you our appreciation with kisses and purrs.
See you soon!
And of Course…Adoptions!!
May had some big kitty adoption action! Handsome Quentin and long time kitten caretaker Lucky both went home this month. And the newcomers arriving at our door were the perfect pair Aries and Orion, as well as the lovely Jisoo. It’s great to see that movement on the cat team again.
Thank you all so much for whatever way you support us and our mission. We couldn’t do it without you.