Four-Dog Nights and Days

Misha wondering if those big teeth are real.

My mom recently spent four days in the hospital, and while she was recuperating, our three-dog home became a four-dog home.

When Mom adopted Misha, I told her that any time she went away or was otherwise unable to take care of her new dog, we would step in and help. I fell in love with Misha as soon as I saw her picture on Loyal Rescue‘s Facebook page, so in many ways, I looked forward to the first time Misha would stay with us. (I certainly didn’t want her visit to be a result of my mom’s hospitalization, though.)

Dusty trying to get Misha to play in the backyard. (This looks less friendly than it was!)


What I hadn’t really thought about when blanket-volunteering for the dog-sitting task was the possibility of my husband being away on business while we had four dogs in the house. Four is a whole different ballgame than three. (But, as I was reminded tonight, three seemed like a whole lot more work than two when we adopted Hogan, yet we acclimated quite well.) As much as I love dogs, I think I’ve determined even the occasional 4:1 dog-to-human ratio is a little too skewed for my liking.

Anyway, Misha has, of course, met Dusty, Cora, and Hogan on many occasions, but she’s always been a little nervous around them. Her first day here was no different. She steered clear of all three and got into the mix only when Dusty and Hogan were barking at a common outsider. In fact, barking at both imaginary (e.g., potential squirrels in the backyard) and real (e.g., the doorbell) intruders is what seemed to bond them.

We have had our trials, though:

  • Cora and Misha took turns growling at each other one day (Cora growled only once; Misha, twice) but eventually tolerated each other quite well, even curling up together one day.

    Cora and Misha on the love seat (their tails are interlocked!).

  • Walking our three by myself is a chore (really, walking Dusty is a chore—the other two are usually quite easy); walking four by myself was just not happening. Enter dog-walker extraordinaire, Nick, and very good friend Johanna. Thank God for them over the past several days!
  • For the first couple of days, we had to chase Misha and pick her up to get her in the house from the backyard. She was really timid about coming through the door. (We still have to pick her up to get her into the garage after our walks.)

    Misha, afraid to come inside.

  • Our long flights of stairs intimidate Misha. While she’s done just fine outside, she takes a long time to make it up or down the indoor stairs. I’ve taken to just carrying her (after chasing her around the kitchen island and finally catching her).
  • Misha is an extremely slow eater, so for several minutes after Dusty and Hogan finish their breakfast or dinner, I’ve had to protect Misha’s food while the boys hover like vultures and she lazily eats (while sitting!). She’s a pretty good protector herself, though, snarling if they get too close.

    Misha calmly sitting to eat. (What you don’t see is the two boys on either side of her wanting her food.)

  • Misha, although female, is a marker. I’ve had to clean up more than one pee spot, so she’s had to be crated overnight and whenever I’ve left the house. Crating appears to be something she knows and is comfortable with, fortunately.

A friendly game of chase.

Dusty tried on several occasions over the first couple of days to get Misha to play, and he did succeed in engaging her in games of chase outside, but he really wanted her to wrestle or play tug-of-war inside. Hogan is a great playmate for Dusty, but he’s not nearly as tireless, so having a backup playmate really appealed to our basset boy.

Finally, on day three, this happened:


Two terriers from Mexico living the high life.

It was great seeing Dusty playing with both Hogan and Misha, although Hogan seemed to have mixed feelings about it, occasionally raising a lip in Misha’s direction. Every time he did that, Dusty, ever the peacemaker, nipped at Hogan, redirecting his attention to the wrestling task at hand. Judging by his wagging body and tail, Dusty was thrilled to be ganged up on by the terriers.

By tomorrow evening, our household will return to a three-dog one. While I know I’ll miss Misha’s cuddles, I think I’ll relish the relative peacefulness of our evening routine: Dusty glued to my side on the couch, Cora high-fiving me for belly rubs, and Hogan tentatively climbing up me to give kisses. Wouldn’t change it for the world!

2 Responses to Four-Dog Nights and Days

  • Ashley says:

    Thanks for the pics and the video Cathy!
    Hope your Mum is feeling much better.

    • Cathy Witlox says:

      Mom is feeling somewhat better, but I might keep Misha another night. Frankly, this morning she was so into the routine that today it feels like a piece of cake having her. She’s also particularly cuddly today, so I don’t want to give her up!

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