They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks but how about introducing a new dog to an old cat? When we adopted a puppy, we accepted that challenge. Predictably, the old cat displayed no interest in the new dog.

They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks BUT how about introducing a new dog to an old cat? When we adopted a puppy, we accepted that challenge. Predictably, the old cat displayed no interest in the new dog.

About the Old Cat: In 2005 I called Mony Fuller with Paws & Claws in Artesia and told her we wanted a solid gray shorthair kitten with green eyes; a cat resembling the regal Russian Blue breed. Mony always delivered exactly the right pet, so I should not have been surprised when she invited us to the old shelter on Roselawn Avenue. There, we met an adorable speck of gray fluff with green eyes. The other kittens had been mean to him, she said, so the tip of his tail was bald. For such a little kitty with such a sad story, he had the biggest purr. We named him “Horatio” and he became a much-loved member of the family. Tom will tell you Horatio’s name is from Hamlet but I will tell you the truth. Saturday Night Live star Horatio Sanz inspired the naming of the kitten.

About the Other Dog: The year before Horatio joined the family, we adopted Phoebe, the cutest yellow Labrador retriever pup. After wandering away from her mother and littermates, she apparently crawled under a house in town. Artesia Animal Control was called when efforts by the residents to coax Phoebe out failed. She spent three days in the care of AAC. On the fourth day , we adopted her.

Horatio and Phoebe soon became best pals. We laughed when we saw a yellow blur flying up the stairs in hot pursuit of a smaller gray streak. We laughed even harder when the yellow blur came flying down the stairs, with the smaller gray streak giving chase. For close to ten years we enjoyed this crazy furry family dynamic.

Then, in February of 2015 Phoebe unexpectedly passed away. At the same time, my son was hospitalized so I was spending my time going back and forth to Lubbock or working. In addition, my husband, Tom, was living in Austin completing his final semester of seminary. Other than the few minutes friends spent checking on Horatio, he found himself home alone for several weeks. No mom, no dad, no kid… and no dog. That was a big change because he had become accustomed to a lifestyle that revolved around a bustling household, with plenty of people to serve and admire him along with a dog for a playmate. An only pet makes for a lonely pet. When things finally returned to “normal” Horatio had become “clingy”, which was unexpected for such an aloof cat.

Tom graduated in spring of 2015 and we realized a major move was imminent. For that reason we waited to adopt another dog. In January 2016, we relocated to Crossville, Tennessee, where Tom became the rector at St. Raphael’s Episcopal Church. Horatio continued to enjoy his status as a pampered only pet. After becoming settled in Crossville, we finally started looking for a puppy. Finding the right dog proved to be more complicated than we expected.

About the New Dog: This past April, over two years since Phoebe died, we brought Rosey home. We adopted AOE Rosamund Phoebe of St. Raphael from Angels on Earth Labrador Retrievers in Knoxville (www.aoelabradors.com). Rosey’s name comes from the small screen although there are disagreements about the origin . “Rosalind” and “Rosaline” can  found in Shakespeare, but Tom borrowed the spelling “Rosamund” from Downton Abbey on Masterpiece. He also insists “Phoebe” is the Shakespearean name while everybody else assumes, correctly, that it came from the TV show, Friends.

Rosie arrived when Horatio was nearly twelve years old and set in his Tennessee ways. He didn’t even feign interest in the twelve-week-old puppy. Maybe he didn’t remember his relationship with Phoebe or maybe he didn’t recognize Rosey as a Phoebe-esque creature. He staged a sit-in of sorts. As long as this slobbery, yippy, round, rolling, undignified black Labrador retriever puppy stayed in the house,  Horatio remained upstairs in his penthouse, to which Rosie was denied access… at least until she could climb stairs unassisted.

Once Horatio figured out Phoebe wasn’t leaving, he finally deigned to descend the stairs . At first, he just tolerated the loud creature who always wanted to play—quiet moments with a lab in the house are rare. Over time, they began to grow “closer.” Horatio now helps himself to Rosey’s water bowl rather than going upstairs for a drink. He recently gave Rosey’s puppy chow a try, even though it doesn’t have turkey gravy added to it like his favorite senior cat chow at The Rectory. Interestingly enough, the only way to sample puppy chow with Rosey around is for Horatio to stick his head under hers and grab a piece of kibble in the thirty seconds before it’s gone. That’s a sure sign there’s hope these two are coming to a friendly understanding.

Another heartwarming sign of friendship and acceptance…Recently I heard a bark and turned just in time to see a large black blur coming out of the dining room followed by a smaller, albeit slower, gray streak.