Within 2 weeks after our last Corgi had died, we ended up hand raising two teeny, tiny kittens who had been abandoned by their mama. We named them Smudge and Oreo. Smudge fit the traditional kitty stereotype…aloof and snotty! She would invite affection only to growl and hiss 2 seconds after you started to pet her! Oreo had Corgi markings, and was so much like a dog it was scary! He would chase toys when you threw them, ran to greet anyone who came in the door, seemed to enjoy a little roughhousing for play, and was generally a really sweet, easy-going kitty. He was the polar opposite of Smudge!
By the time Rugby had joined our family, the kitties were 5 years old, and had never met any other animals. They were mildly curious at this furry thing on stilt-like legs who was wearing a leash. Rugby on the other hand, seemed very curious about these two creatures who looked nothing like dogs but had fur all the same. So he did what he always does when he has no idea what he should do. He barked. A lot. Loudly. Over and over and over again! Did I mention that he was noisy?
Smudge heard the first “Woof” and she took off like a rocket! Oreo stood his ground, but he was clearly not impressed. His ears went back flat against his head, and he narrowed his eyes as he hunkered down against the floor. Rugby looked right past Oreo to watch Smudge leaving the room! His face said it all: “Oh doggies!! They RUN!!” And he was off to chase Smudge. Thankfully, the leash stopped everything but the crazy barking.
Because Smudge was no longer in the room, Rugby turned his attention to Oreo, changing his barking to what I’ve always called “chirping.” It’s an odd little sound Rugby does in the back of his throat when he knows he shouldn’t bark, but needs to make serious noise anyway. That usually means he’s overstimulated, anxious, and ready to explode. Oreo looked less than interested in Rugby, and slowly sauntered away, tail high in the air, acting as unimpressed as possible….giving Rugby a mean “stink eye” over his shoulder as he strolled away.
We decided that giving them separate areas of the house with pet gates would be the safest way to go. The kitties got the upstairs, and Rugby got the downstairs. We used a pet gate at the top of the stairs, and hoped that over time, the three of them would learn to love each other. Because Oreo was so calm, we hoped he and Rugby would make peace at least!
Well, Rugby quickly figured out how to jump the pet gates, so we had to get extra tall gates for our little deer of a dog. We wanted the kitties to be safe, and we weren’t sure if Rugby would injure them or not! We tried carefully scheduled meetings with them one-on-one, but those never went very well. Rugby always barked, and the kitties never enjoyed that. They hissed and spit and made themselves look big and scary….puffing out their fur and growling at him. As soon as he saw them….the barking ensued, and no amount or type of correction stopped him!
As time went on, we settled into separate lives with the pets. The kitties loved being upstairs during the day, and since Rugby was crated at night, the kitties could safely explore the entire house overnight, which they also loved. There really wasn’t any reason for Rugby to be upstairs, so we limited him to the downstairs space. He did enjoy running up and down the stairs and stood at the pet gate to bark at the kitties if he could see them on the other side.
One day, when Rugby came running up the stairs to bark at the kitties, Oreo had had enough. He came charging right back down the stairs at the dog, and I thought it was going to be World War III at our house. I managed to intercept the dog, Lindsay grabbed Oreo, and they each went to separate corners.
And that was that. Oreo had no interest in the dog from that day forward. He was just done with the barking and exuberance that Rugby had, and he had decided that he would stand his ground and defend his space. Because he had no front claws, we knew his safety was compromised, so we knew we couldn’t ever trust the two of them together.
From Rugby’s point of view, Smudge no longer existed in his world, and Oreo took on the name of “The Evil Troll” because of his refusal to back down. The two of them looked at each other and if we could have inserted cartoon balloons for their thoughts, they were both thinking, “Bring it, Buddy!” And that’s how Oreo earned his nickname of “The Evil Troll!”