Testing With Cats?

Our new family member, Sally:


We recently decided it was time to start looking at adding a canine member to our family.  For some background, we have 3 young boys (8 Years old, 2 years old and 9 months) and an adult cat (approximately 13 years old).

Our oldest had a bad experience very young with a playful puppy so is a little hesitant when it comes to dogs. Our 2 year old is obsessed with dogs and goes on walks looking for them all the time. HE also has about 10 stuffed dogs in his possession.

Some of the criteria we used when searching for the dog is as follow:

  • Good with kids: We need a dog that is relatively patient and easy going as with the 3 young kids am sure they will test its patience on a regular basis.
  • Good with cats:  We wanted to make sure the dog we adopted would be good/ok with cats. We didn’t want our cat to be limited to where he could/couldn’t go in house in fear of our new dog.
  • No puppies: Wanted a slightly older dog that while still energetic, a little more mature and calm when needed.
  • Medium sized dog: we didn’t want too large of a dog for space and concerns with knocking kids over, etc.
  • Non-jumper:  This came from our 8 year old. He didn’t want a dog that jumps up a lot as scares him from his prior experience as a smaller child.

We located a dog we were interested in located down in Linton, IN, around a 2 hour drive. She was described as calm and laid back.

Now to the Topic at Hand…

We are now getting to the subject of this blog post. One of the key things before deciding to make the trip down was for them to test her and how she responds to cats. A couple days later, I received a response that they had tested her with cats and that she  tested well and was actually intimidated by the cat they put her in with. So in effect was determined “test passed”. Although she did use some safety language – “I think she will do just fine with cats.”

When we got home and settled in, Dog sees Cat. Cat Sees Dog. Cat takes off. Dog gives chase. Not in an “I’m going to hurt you” way but a “let’s play” way. But, not exactly what we were expecting when heard “tested well with cats”.

As I am in the middle of BBST Test Design training, the functions and variables jumped out to me and motivated me to put together a blog post.

  • Function: Good with Cats
    • A couple Variables stick out: (I am sure folk can find many more in this example).
      • Cat: Is the cat afraid of the dog? Yes or No gives much different results
        • Test Cat: They tested her with a cat that had no fear of dogs and went right up to her. In this case, she cowered and was intimidated.
        • Our Cat: Our cat is skittish of dogs and showed fear by running away. This triggered our dog to give chase rather cower in intimidation.
        • Historical Example: My mom had a dog and 2 cats at 1 time. The 1 cat could care less that the dog was there and would go aboThe other was always scared of the dog. So when we would let them out, he would dart for the fence.  The dog would chase after the scared cat EVERYTIME and never once gave the other much of a bother.
    • Setting:  In shelter vs. at home. At home pre-adjustment vs. At home  and increased comfort level of dog
      • Shelter: She had been there 3 weeks and in a loud environment and adjusting to contact.
      • Our House:  At this point, think the cat variable biggest impact, but will be interesting to see how this impacts her behavior here vs. other areas as she moves from adjusting to our house to feeling like this is her house too.
    • Take Away:
      • This shows the importance of using many techniques to test the different variables in a function/situation.  Superficial coverage to determine “passing” could only give you half the story and/or miss something critical.
      • We may jump to a conclusion on finding a certain pattern and stop short of finding the real issue/answer.
      • Changing any variable can impact the results of test/behavior and then combining multiple variables exposes other potential differences and/or more confidence in consistent behavior.
      • We need to research and figure out the best way to introduce Sally, the Dog, to Will, the Cat, in a way where they can live and interact in peace.  I personally think it would take the cat standing his ground 1 time to set the dog straight.
      • Just because they test out find with one cat does not translate to being great with other cats.
      • Overall she has acclimated to our family very quickly and loves our boys already. Our 8 year old who generally shies away from dogs is on top of the moon and super excited. It is fun to see. She loves to snuggle and walks well on the leash and sleeps in crate without issue.
      • Another area to train her is how she responds/ interacts with our 2 year old. She has made a few warning noises/ moves to our 2 year old if he startles her or is playing around her tail.

About Alex Bantz

Director of Quality Engineering at Salesforce in Indianapolis, Indiana. The views expressed here are my own and not those of Salesforce. I am a proud father of 3 wonderful boys. I have been involved in the field of software testing 15 years as both an individual contributor and in managerial/leadership roles. I enjoy not only learning new techniques but also assisting others in their growth and development and am a vocal supporter of the importance of software testing. View all posts by Alex Bantz

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