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Matthew Sisk: Dog learns to share human attention with a new kitten
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Our history of Lemmy leaps forward this week, encompassing three mostly uneventful years.

Lemmy’s weight remains steady. He receives vaccination updates commiserate with his lifestyle and the associated risks he encounters.

His teeth are beginning to accumulate calculus (tartar) steadily, despite brushing as often as possible. Daily is the gold standard, but in a house with two children and a new kitten, sometimes we have to settle for silver or bronze. Lemmy will likely need a dental cleaning within the next six months.

But my focus for his visit this year is his hips. For the past couple of months, Lemmy has been reluctant to get on his little brother’s bed. For an 8-year-old dog, it can be a warning sign of arthritis. The exam shows no issues with the rear legs.

So, I question another aspect of Lemmy’s life: Did this start around the time the kitten arrived? The answer is yes.

Upon further questioning, Lemmy shows no other signs of creaky joints in his other activities. He still runs, jumps, plays, paws and shakes hands, all without a hint of a limp. His musculature around his hips is still abundant.

So, the answer may lie with the kitten that sleeps on the bed sometimes.

Although Lemmy is as gregarious a dog as ever, he has reservations about kittens. Not that he wants to eat it. Instead, he seems to worry the kitten will eat him. This isn’t rare. Cats, after all, have sharp edges.

Lemmy grew up with humans of all sizes, but he isn’t well-versed in feline communication. Hisses and swipes from small cats can still be disturbing. Plus, kittens can be bullies.

So, I recommend the owners monitor the interactions between the two. Limiting kitten access to the bed may help Lemmy rest there more often. Hopefully they’ll work it out in the future.

A follow-up telephone confirms both are now napping together. Different ages, sizes and species peacefully coexisting. I smile as I hang up the phone, enjoying another lesson pets can teach humans.

Matthew Sisk is a practicing veterinarian from Habersham County. Have questions about your pet? He can be reached at

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