Dog lovers do it outdoors–and by that, I mean “life.” There's nothing like a dog to get you outside (because they have to be walked) mixing with the world and other people–so in my opinion, dog lovers are more friendly. Dog lovers interact with the world because their dogs make them–and they are richer for it, even if it's by having to carry a bag of steaming dog poop in public.
I began life as a cat person. Dogs, in my experience, were demanding, noisy, and needy. Cats, on the other hand—just throw out some food, pet them occasionally, they’d keep the mice down (except if old and lazy, see previous blog A Better Rat Trap) and add to quality of life with purring and sleeping picturesquely in the windowsill. I actively disliked dogs. Always barking, biting, defecating in the yard and needing interaction. Give me a cat any day.
But I became allergic. Virulently allergic. Just looking at one makes my eyes water and I’m overcome by hemorrhagic sneezing. Visiting the home of someone who owns a cat, even when said beastie is absent and furniture has been vacuumed, gives me asthma. And I don’t technically have asthma.
The doctor shrugged looking at the giant hives on my arm that erupted when he tested my reaction to cats.
“But I love my cats! I’m a cat person!” I wailed.
“Maybe you’re a dog person now,” he said.
So we gave away our cats years ago when we moved to Maui, and got a dog–a Chihuahua terrier who looks like a small black-and-tan footstool. She’s a Rottweiler in a tiny body with a heart bigger than Texas; she’s the model for Keiki in my books. She’d do anything for her people and defend her home to the death.
White hairs appeared around her muzzle. Before we knew it, she was ten years old, and her bounding run had begun to be more of a waddle. The children had grown and gone, but thankfully she remained. The love I had for this dog was a little frightening. (It showed me I’d never really been a cat person, I’d always had a dog person inside screaming to get out.) Now that I was an Empty Nester, I needed a transitional dog. Something fuzzy and cute, that liked to snuggle. Because wonderful as Our Girl was, she was a Rottweiler in a tiny body. She didn’t do snuggling.
So I bought another dog. He’s a Shih-Tzu, which I have tried to pronounce in other ways but still always comes out Shit Zoo (my friend Beckee tried to teach me the Chinese way to pronounce it, and I couldn't). He was a one year old purebred that I got off Craigslist thinking the puppy phase would be taken care of. Turns out there were other, more insidious reasons why he was being sold–but with time and training, we overcame those.
Dogs feature largely in my fiction, especially the newest book, Broken Ferns. Wherever there are dogs, there are “situations” that develop, situations that show courage, character development, and are metaphors for other things like the love of a parent for a child, the brotherhood of arms, and the courage of conviction. Dogs are wonderful characters that illuminate aspects of our humanity–and in fairness, so are cats, the sly devils.
(I also think both kinds of pets are nearly as effective in promoting good mental health and mood improvement as an antidepressant. For people I'm working with for anxiety/depression who don't want to try meds, I recommend getting a dog–mainly because of the interaction demands. They care about their people and love them unconditionally, and can be counted on for an ecstatic welcome when you get home–where cats may or may not deign to notice.)
The truth is, I'd still be a cat person if I could–I'd have a cat inside and a dog outside. But there's no doubt, dog people do life more often outdoors.
What about you? Dog lover or cat person? Both?
I’m both but was a bit more obsessed with cats when I was a kid. I subscribed to cat fancy and knew everything there was about every breed (obsessed!). Sure we had dogs but I was more interested in cats.
I love dogs now. There are very few souls in this world who will risk their life for another and love us unconditionally. I believe there would be fewer divorced couples in this world if our spouse showed us the affection we receive from our dogs when we come home at night. I miss my daily hour long walks with a black shepherd named Midnite and I’ll never get over the realization that he will never wake me again.
Your two are cuties and yes terriers are great because they are exactly as you described, little dogs with big dog personalities.
Thanks for popping in Tania, it was such a disappointment/grief to become allergic!
I’m an animal lover. That’s it, pure and simple. I was a ‘horsey’ kid. Read all the books, knew all the breeds. But like you, I learned at 16, after a short, euphoric few months of actually attending riding school, that I was allergic to horses. That affliction has become worse over the years so that now I can’t go to any place where there’s a horse. I’m also allergic to dogs and cats but I can train my body to become accustomed to it. It was always a short trial when I got a new kitten or puppy. So I relate to what you say, although my dogs were German Shepherds. I took them to doggy school, did the walks and all. But I still loved my cats – in a different relationship. Eh. I’m prattling on. I don’t have any animals now. Except the wild birds in the yard.
Oh how awful. I love horses too!
I used to be utterly convinced that I was a dog person, then I was utterly convinced that I was a cat person (and spent a good part of the years I worked as a Vet Tech working in cat-only hospitals) and at this point I have to concede that both have their wonderful points and their not-so-wonderful points. At this point in my life I can’t have a dog, simply because I work shifts up to 24 hours and I’m single. So I have 2 cats and 2 reptiles, all of which can take care of themselves for a day with no problem. And I’m lucky – my cats actually do come running to greet me when I come home (if they’re awake). And they go bonkers when I’ve worked an overnight and come home in the morning.
They were also highly useful the other day when I had a panic attack that sent me into a full state of overload – and for some reason I got hustled off the county crisis line. They had called some number on my behalf which they thought was the after-hours number at the clinic where I get treatment – except that they don’t *have* an after-hours line. So I never got a call back, of course, and by the time it was clear that the call was not coming, I was so far gone that it was literally too much to even use my phone to try to call the crisis line again. Plus, when even they “reject” you, you don’t really want to go back right away… And yes, that is a highly emotional interpretation, but I was in a highly emotional state. There wasn’t much of anything I could do at that point other than curl around my teddy bear on the bed and shake – but both cats, both of whom tend to be nervous around large emotions and loud noises, came and curled up against me and purred at me, and there we stayed until my physical exhaustion and nighttime meds combined to send me down from my waking nightmare into sleeping nightmares. These guys can be standoffish when they feel like it, or when I have mysteriously done something (or not done something) that has somehow offended them, but when Mama is really losing it, they show up. And that’s a pretty powerful thing, especially when you have a new diagnosis and are having to SLOWLY titrate up new meds and your doctor is messing with your anxiolytic (since xanax and seroquel don’t really play nicely together), and then your life decides to fall through as well… I’m single and fairly solitary in the world, but at least my babies love me, and make me laugh, and keep me grounded and… well, I don’t know if I can claim “sane”, but probably saner than I would be otherwise!
Thanks for sharing, animals can be good medicine!
I’m definitely both–the cat is a great lap sitter, keeping me warm, and yep, I have to go outside at least four times a day because of the dang dogs. Just came in from walking them, in fact, and we have over two feet of snow, with more coming down! Not a great day to be my little white Pekingese…