Once, Alfie was kind enough to answer a question of mine, and I found his advice very helpful. Now, I have another question which I hope you will be able to answer! I am a Very Old Dog now, and I love snoozing away the days in my nice house. I potter out occasionally to bark at the hedgerows and look at the chickens, but mostly I like a quiet life. However, recently three cats have come to live with us. They are young and lively. They steal my food and sleep on my bed. They run around and jump on the work-surfaces in the kitchen, although the humans don’t like them doing this and put them out of the house when they catch them. They even go upstairs, which I’m not allowed to do. When they walk past me, quite often they will take a swipe at me with their claws. I am a very gentle and friendly dog, and I would never dream of reacting to them, but I am getting very tired of them bullying me. Flock, what should I do?
The Flock has nominated RUBY to answer this question. Ruby lived in the house for the first week of her life, so she understands the unnatural way human houses work.
Dear Brandy Dog,
Well. I don’t know quite what to say. I am disgusted with those cats, and their bad behaviour. A human house is a deeply strange place, but if there’s one over-arching rule about living in one, it is that you HAVE to behave yourself when you are in there, and get on with the other creatures in it. Humans like their houses to be places of peace and quiet (although they seem perfectly happy to have that strange, loud box-with-moving-pictures in the corner of the room!) and so they won’t be particularly keen to have a fracas happening.
I am sorry to have to say that you might have to take action yourself, which I understand might be difficult, but if you do it right you shouldn’t have to do it very often. First, read the Ask The Flock letter from a few weeks ago, where Caleb counselled a letter writer who wanted to psyche out his opponents at a chess tournament. You can use the fierce stare and assertive stance on the cats. They will certainly understand what you mean! You have the added advantage of large, white teeth and an intimidating growl. Just make sure that you stay out of reach of their claws, which are super sharp and can be deployed with lightning speed. The cats may well be so surprised to see you standing up for yourself that you need do no more. We all know that you would not dream of harming them, but THEY don’t need to know that.
However, if this doesn’t work, I think that your next best recourse is the humans. While they are around, you can make sure they are aware of ALL the cats’ transgressions. You could even subtly encourage the cats to do naughty things and then draw them to the humans’ attention – but that is a sneaky move, and is not befitting for a creature who wants to keep the moral high ground. If I know cats, they will land themselves in trouble very often, with no help from you. If the cats swipe at you whilst the humans are around, you can deploy that mournful look at which dogs excel. That should certainly get the humans acting on your behalf.
Brandy Dog, I am sorry that this is happening to you. It is difficult for dogs, I know, because you are expected to put up with a terrific amount of bother, but if you react you are blamed. I think you should stick closely to your humans from now on – I am sure they will be delighted to have your company.