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Apologies, this will be a long post because I want to give as much context as I can. Tl;wr is that an 11 year old Jack Russel / Chihuahua mix I dogsit barks and growls at my tiny, terrified kitten, and I wonder what I can do about it.
I'll cut right to the chase! This summer I've begun to dogsit Loki, an 11 year old Jack Russel/Chihuahua mix who belongs to a close friend of mine, L.
L and I lived together for a year, so Loki knows me well and trusts me quite a bit. And I ADORE him! I always joke that I'm his cool aunt since I take him to art school with me where he gets treats and pets from many students and teachers who are delighted to unwind from stressful classes by sitting down with little Mister Soulful Eyes.
Loki has a very sweet and calm, sort of shy temperament. He can be extremely insecure, so he is quickly terrified of other dogs and barks loudly at them, his body language looking as if he's about to attack. He has literally never attacked anyone or anything though, I don't even see him ever shaking his toys around like many dogs do.
It should be mentioned that Loki used to have a cat sister named Luna who was the absolute boss of their household. She was there when he was taken in as a little puppy and they were super close.
Enter Milkyway. My Mom gave her to me almost three weeks ago and we fell in love with each other. Milkyway is still a very small kitten, about 8.5 weeks old. Funnily enough, she spent most of her childhood so far on a small farm, where a big dog decided this kitten was totally actually a puppy and therefore she groomed and gently played with the babies.
Now, Loki is used to my apartment, especially my room as an extension of his territory. When I sit him I usually get up an hour early, pick him up from his Dad's car downstairs, walk him for however long he likes to take and then bring him up to my room, where he gets a kong toy to settle down a little while I get ready for school. He often nestles into the crook of my knees when he's done with the treat in his toy, moving on to wherever I used to sit when I go to the bathroom. It's visibly a very secure place for him, he barely barks at noises in here.
Now, of course ever since Milky arrived, my room is also her base camp. She has many scent soakers right next to my bed and spends a lot of time playing and snuggling in it with me.
When they first met on Wednesday morning, Milky must have run to the door as she heard it unlock, expecting me. While Loki trotted inside first because he's used to greeting my roommate before he gets his treat.
They stood in front of each other for a moment, Milky in a startled hunch and Loki with a tense, alert position.
Then he barked and growled up a storm, sending Milkyway running into my roommate's room. She was terrified of him for the rest of the time he was there (maybe 45 minutes) and hid a lot, while he snarled at her whenever he caught sight of her.
I ended up closing off my room to him so his scent wouldn't get on the bed and startle Milky into marking it. My roomie soothed Milkyway while I got ready for school on fast-forward, and then I took off with pupper.
Loki was especially insecure for the rest of the day, going off at everything with four legs. Milkyway was back to her perky old self in the afternoon when I came home, and as soon as her Momma got out of the doggo-stanky clothes, she happily cuddled again.
When dogsitting today I organized it so Loki stayed in my roomie's room this time, getting a kong (the red one filled with a frozen treat) on the couch where my roommate snuggles and plays with Milky while I'm gone for school. I'm trying to make him associate her scent with good feels. Same thing vice-versa, she'll spend my schoolday on the couch again.
I'm not sure how to proceed though. I doubt they'll ever be besties, but I adore them both and would really hate to give up spending time with Loki. Is there a way to put both more at ease and introduce them in a way that will decrease the tension? I just want them both to be happy.
I could opt out of dogsitting, but I'd like to see that as a last resort. Loki and I have had such a positive impact on each other so far, and I don't love him any less just because I also love Milky.
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