I'm a newbie (literally just joined tonight) and am in need of some sound advice on the planning I need to undertake before purchasing a retired greyhound from the GAP program (never owned a dog before!). I have been thinking long and hard about whether such an addition to our family will work and how to go about it. I believe in "pets for life" and think it would be such a tragedy to bring in a new pet on a whim without careful planning to ensure the best possible outcome for everyone.
The story as it stands now is that my husband and I are currently "owned" by two beautiful female domestic cats (strictly indoor cats only). One is an 8yo who is terribly shy of strangers (will hide in her favorite spot if she feels under threat) and jumps at loud/sudden noises. The other is a 7yo who is fairly relaxed but will only let my husband and I pet her. Oh, and we don't have any children (not planning on it either!).
My planning thus far is:
- conducting as much research on the breed as I can, both from the GAP website, and current/previous owners, and joining this forum. I have even gone to the point of looking at the breed through youtube and observing its interactions with other people and animals via that medium.
- spending time observing my current pets habits and considering what changes to their routine will need to be put in place prior to bringing any other pet home (such as feeding times and location, putting barriers up at certain points in the house to ensure they have a safe place to retreat if they need too and that they know where these places are and how to get there..i.e. learning to jump barriers that were not there before).
- considering the expense of owning another pet who will need visits to the vet occasionally, food costs (not sure how much they eat yet or what type of food they require, though I did hear that a diet low in protein is needed).
BUT just as importantly, how to go about the introduction as this requires detailed planning to ensure a successful outcome if at all possible.
My thoughts vary but my ideas are listed below...please tell me if I have left something out or not considered something...
Prior to bringing the new family member home:
- obtaining a blanket or some other material from the foster family of the greyhound that is approved for us so that the cats have a chance to get used to the new animal smell.
- making sure I have barriers in place for a week or two at the very least, so that the cats can get used to where their "safe haven's" are and how to get there etc. The outcome of this preparation comes into play a little later when the new member arrives as to restrict him/her to the living area only until I can be certain that all of the animals can co-exist or are at the very least, tolerant of one another.
- changing the current feeding routine because as it stands, we leave food out for the cats in the kitchen area during the day and I don't think it would be a good idea for the new member to have access to food that is not its own. I'm in two minds as to whether to cordon off the kitchen area also during the introduction phase...
- ensuring that there is a separate designated sleeping and feeding area for the new member (eventually would like to move the sleeping area to our bedroom but can't until the introduction phase has passed as our bed is also the sleeping haven for our 7yo feline and to get there, you have to pass by our felines designated toilet area which in the meantime, needs to be one of the "safe havens").
I have only just started considering how to do this but my thoughts are as follows...
- bringing the new member home and thoroughly introducing him/her to the outside of the home (on a lead/harness) including the outside bed area in the shelter of our courtyard (this will obviously be pre-prepared).
...but I'm at a bit of a loss as to where to go from here. Do I bring him/her into the house on the lead/harness but have the cats clearly separated by a door so that they can sniff each other actually seeing? I figure that the cats would be terrified at first seeing such a big dog when they have had absolutely no experience with them. Or do I put the cats into their cat boxes (which they can see out of)....but this might make them even more terrified if they can't run and hide...they might feel trapped. Or do I let the cats take it at their own pace...run and hide as they will and wait for them to tentatively reappear?
I know I probably need to give this phase a good four to six weeks to get a judge on how it is going and will need to take some time off work to ensure that it all goes as smoothly as possible...
I'm sorry this is so long....it's just that if I'm going to do this, then I really want to make it work by doing all the thinking and planning prior filling out the request for adoption. If I find that I don't think it is workable....I will not go ahead but I would be sorely disappointed. Especially if I could have planned better for it...
Any advice or suggestions would be very much appreciated! And if you got this far....bravo!