Dylan and Dawg, A Unique Relationship

by Barbara Murray

My 13-month-old pup, Dylan, plays with a semi-undomesticated cat named Dawg that comes into his territory, our fenced-in backyard, most every day that it's not raining. The two of them are friends one day and enemies the next, or friends for ten minutes and enemies for five or twenty. It varies each time.

I've watched the outward displays of this relationship for months now and I would love to know what goes through the mind of each one of these unique animals when they're together.

Dylan and Dawg getting ready to stare one of their daily brawlsI can't quite figure it out. One time when I look out to check on Dylan, the two of them might be rolling on the ground together, or napping together. The next time they might be wrestling. Many times when I check on him, Dylan is chasing Dawg around the yard at breakneck speed. When the cat tires of this, he jumps the fence and goes away for a while. Dawg is definitely Dylan's nemesis in a ridiculously funny love/hate relationship. The good thing is, they never hurt each other seriously, although the wrestling can get quite fierce at times. (The photograph at left shows them just beginning one of their daily fights.)

If it's been awhile since Dylan has been out, Dawg will get up on the deck railing where he can see into the house through the kitchen window and cry for Dylan to come out. When Dylan goes out, the chase begins, which leads to tumbling and wrestling most times that I've watched.

When Dawg tires of the play but doesn't want to leave the yard, he'll climb upon the picnic table and watch Dylan beg for him to come down. And Dylan will beg, he'll stand and bark/talk to the cat for sometimes 10 minutes or longer trying to get him to come down to ground level. Although Dylan can get on the table whenever he wants, he seems to somehow know that the cat is much more nimble than he in high places and will not go onto the table when Dawg is on it.

I'm thinking that it's likely he did one time and maybe fell off hard, which is why he won't climb now while Dawg is up there. While Dylan is on the ground jumping and begging him to come down, every so often Dawg will reach down and smack him in the face, which only intensifies Dylan's barking/begging.

Another aspect of the relationship that baffles me is that Dylan seems to need to be fierce when he knows a human is watching. For example, the two of them may be snuggling or rubbing on each other, but let a human open the door out onto the deck and Dylan immediately jumps on Dawg and chases him away. I've also notice multiple times that when they're close together and not fighting, and awake of course, Dylan will repeatedly look at the door, as if not wanting to get caught being nice to the cat.

Dylan and Dawg resting after playingOftentimes, they do tire each other out and end up in a pile together asleep. I've been able to sneak and take photos on several occasions, but unfortunately, they were shot through a window screen and thus not clear like I would like. For example, the photograph to the right is one of the best I've been able to take without waking them and starting a brawl. It's shot through the kitchen window and as you can see, the screen makes it difficult to see them both, plus a deck chair makes it even more difficult to see Dylan on the left.

I suppose I can continue to observe the visible dynamics of this relationship for years and yet I'll never know what's really going on.

Any ideas?

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