(Not Quite) Strangers When We Meet

Note: Video starts with relatively loud sound, then quiets down.

This meeting comes after several weeks of preparing Dennis for it.  Here’s guest writer Dennis’s Mama to explain how that was done.

“Dennis is not known for being brave, so this is what we did to prepare Dennis.

Week Before Kittens Come Home: Before every meal, Dennis listened to a looped recording of the kittens meowing. Kittens’ meows were recorded on our iPhone from when we visited them at the shelter. Initially his response was neutral to the meows. After about 5 days of listening before mealtimes, Dennis began to happily run into the kitchen as soon as he heard meows. Mission accomplished: a happy (not neutral) reaction to meows.

Kittens Are Home: After a couple days of settling into the guest room, kittens are comfortable in their new surroundings. Kittens are removed from guest room for several minutes so Dennis can go in to sniff the room and eat lots of boiled gizzard pieces. We did this for two days.

Later, begin opening cat room door and letting Dennis view kittens (in their carrier) for about 5-10 seconds at a time. Dennis is fed gizzards each time. Did about three reps with a minute in between each. In between each rep, Dennis was led away and the cat room door was closed. Did this for about two days until he seemed relaxed and happy to see kittens in carrier.

Next step, let Dennis view kittens as they are loose in the cat room, engaged with Dada so they don’t door dash. Dennis was given a whole handful of gizzard pieces at once when he saw the kittens, then the door was closed again, and no more treats. We did this a couple times each evening. (Dada’s note: The first few times we did this, the kittens would stop and stare at Dennis when the door opened. After they realized Dennis wasn’t a threat, they at first ignored him, then decided they wanted to go and say hello to him. We intercepted them to prevent any unfortunate incidents, such as kittens swinging from Dennis’s delicious floppy ears and jowls.) Dennis LOVED the whole handful of treats at once. When he was happily wagging his tail in the cat room instead of eating with a tucked tail, we continued for one more day, and then introduced Dennis to the kittens in the xpen in the living room, for a longer period of time.

The whole living room training session was 6 minutes long, with short breaks in between where Dennis was led out of the room and treats stopped, then resumed when he re-entered the room and saw kittens again.”

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15 thoughts on “(Not Quite) Strangers When We Meet

  1. Nicely done, Dennis! And way to score on the chicken gizzards! But dude, kittens?!? You know they are cute little fluff balls that will steal your humans’ brains, right?!? But as long as your parents give you chicken, I guess it’s okay!

    *kissey face*
    -Fiona and Daisy the Bandersnatch

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  2. Man, I had NO idea about Dennis’ “special needs”. Who’d a thunk two kittens would be more chill than a vizla? Day are gonna make excellent additions to Dennis’ shenanigans!

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  3. Very good work on the part of Mama and Dada for introducing those kitties to you,, Dennis. We would have enjoyed those gizzrds too, but we think it might take about 87 gazillion pieces before we would behave with those kitties. Nice work.

    Woos – Lightning and Misty

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