Monday, June 07, 2010

Dogs, Cats and Their Humans

This human’s life has been filled with a variety of pets through the years, including numerous dogs and cats. Recently I heard some pet lovers describe what the pet we choose says about the human owner’s personality. The discussion included a viewpoint saying cats are owned by people who like to feel rejected. Dogs are purportedly more social and interested in establishing relationships which is presumed to be their owner’s trait. Dogs have larger brains than cats but this may not necessarily imply greater intelligence. I'm sure dog and cat owners have many more arguments from their individual points of view.

Dogs are usually not noted for being fastidiously neat with their eating habits, but Ginger at Breakfast does pretty well. Thanks to one of my writing class buddies for bringing this YouTube video to my attention.

My first pet recollection is of a cute little black scottish terrier. My grandmother didn't like that dog and he must have sensed her animosity. Those days before dishwashing machines grandma insisted on being ours as a way to contribute to our household when she visited. One evening as she was standing at the sink busily washing and rinsing dishes she began to feel an increasingly warm sensation in one of her felt slippers. Glancing down at her feet she saw this sweet little dog relieving himself on her. We suspect he was giving her a message, but he also succeeded in reinforcing her negative view of him.

A few years later, the only dog I ever disliked (though not initially) came into my life, a petite goldish-colored fully grown pomeranian. She merely tolerated everyone except our family member who had created her behavior by spoiling and catering to her. I recall us relaxing in the living room with an Aunt who was visiting for the first time. She shifted her feet ever so slightly on the carpet. This dog sleeping across the room was apparently startled and annoyed by my Aunt's action so rushed growling, snarling and snapping at her toes. She didn't bite my Aunt, but scared this woman whose pet at her home was a much larger friendly lovable German shepherd police dog. We'd never seen this behavior before from the prissy miss pooch and didn't see it ever again.

Eventually, our family moved to the country where we had a variety of pets including German pomeranians, cocker spaniels and a stock collie dog (read his story by clicking on these links: "Betrayal and Heartbreak" ; "King's History".)

We also had numerous cats of various colors and dispositions. We raised puppies selling them to carefully screened new owners, but the kittens had to be given away. The number of pets we owned diminished to two, varying through the years, then eventually decreasing to none as we relocated across the country and back again to a Midwest Great Lakes state.

By now I was a young, single adult, longing once again for a pet. I purchased a reddish golden-haired male pomeranian puppy that became quite self-centered as he grew to adulthood. I had to move away so wasn’t home enough to oversee his discipline. Another person with health issues assumed that responsibility but excessively indulged this cute little dog’s misbehaviors with the result being he became quite self-centered. He was seldom left alone, but following the death of this family member who had catered to him the dog’s care became a problem as he started receiving long overdue discipline. If he was left alone for even a brief time while we went to the nearby grocery market he made his rebellious or mourning statement by leaving a puddle on the floor by the kitchen table leg.

I wasn’t allowed a pet in my apartment, but we luckily found a home for the dog with the understanding I could visit a few weeks later to see how he was adapting to his new owners. Adapting! When I visited, he hardly paid any attention to me in his new urban environment that allowed him more room to run untethered outdoors, to splash about in a small wading pond and reportedly enjoy sleeping in the bed between this older couple. They were delighted with him as they had been grieving the loss of their aged toy pomeranians prior to acquiring him. I could immediately see he had trained them well and was clearly living in doggy heaven here on earth.

We excused inappropriate bathroom behavior from our cat I describe later when we learned he had an infection. Cats can be quite independent with their personal habits. The video of this neat and clean cat is the first I’ve seen that not only uses the toilet, but also toilet paper.

After I wed, my husband and I became enamored with a kitten birthed by a three-footed wild mama cat living in a nearby woods whose confidence we won over a year's time. We adopted him and he matured into a lovable personable attractive handsome long-haired silver gray cat. Sadly neighbor dogs allowed to run loose later killed his mother. He accompanied us in all our moves about the country through his fifteen plus years lifetime.

A few years after his death a ten month old German short-haired pointer we rescued from the local animal shelter joined our household. She proved to be a challenge as we began to understand why her previous owners had given her up. Reportedly they had been unable to successfully train her to be a bird dog. I'm not sure how she had failed because she often pointed birds in our back yard which impressed us.

What didn't impress us was that she was hopelessly neurotic, chewing a bottom portion of our long saved for brand new living room drapes on a couple of occasions soon after we brought her home. She must have overheard me say if she did that one more time I would return her to the dog pound because there were no further incidents and she remained with us the rest of her life. Of course, the irreparable drape damage had been done. This dog's behavior clearly revealed she had been the victim of abuse, probably in the name of discipline, so we felt compelled to re-educate her in a loving manner and must have succeeded to some extent. She also grew a bit larger, plus she became a much more active dog than we had anticipated.

This high strung lady dog didn't tolerate other animals in our back yard forcing me to rescue more than one opossum. One time, hearing the sudden deep growls, barks and yips, we opened the back door to quickly discern she had tangled with a skunk when a most acerbic unpleasant odor permeated the evening air and her. She could not tolerate being alone outside for long if we were home. She persisted in behaving like a jumping jack, tirelessly leaping up and down on her back legs as if on springs, to peer at us through the living room window – very distracting and entertaining as she never tired. She was incredibly jealous of any other pet that might seek my attention.

She viewed herself as a lap dog which was a delusion on her part due to her size. When she couldn't sit on my husband's lap, she soon initiated the idea of squeezing in beside him on his reclining chair which he ultimately encouraged. She often sought attention behaving much like a puppy causing us to wonder if she had been separated from her mother at too early an age. She lived a long full life with us bringing our family overall pleasure, successfully recovering from one cancer surgery. A few years later recurrent cancer spread throughout her body to a degree life was no longer viable. We reluctantly and tearfully had her “put to sleep” as the euphemism is worded.

Individuals living in confined quarters probably prefer having a pet whose needs can be more easily met without the necessity of walking a dog outdoors so cats seem logical. Some individuals in need of exercise incentives might choose to have a dog to regularly walk outside. I'm seeing many more dogs walking their humans in our neighborhood this year -- all sizes and breeds from fluffy little Shih Tzus to handsome Siberian Huskies with all sorts of mixed breeds in between.

Travel and sudden trips become more complicated and expensive with a pet. I wouldn't take mine with me though I know many have begun doing so in recent years. I come from the era when people and children were the humans while pets, however dearly loved, carefully cared for, were pet animals. Now my impression is that distinction does not exist for many humans with pets. I'm still opting for no pet presently as my experience is the care and inconveniences associated with even the most healthy cat or dog outweighs the companionship I would enjoy.

The question of which is the best companion and most intelligent pet -- a dog or cat remains a matter of opinion, I think. Dogs may foster or require their human to adopt a more physically active lifestyle than cats. Dogs may need more attention and human interaction. I’ve found dogs to be more attentive including with eye gaze, feelings sensitivity, being emotionally responsive and better listeners attuned to the nonverbal aspects of their human’s language. I've shared my life with both type pets in apartments, houses in city, suburban, and rural environments. My experience indicates the answer about which is the best pet is partially dependent on the particular dog’s or cat’s breeding, disposition, human owner's personal preference, living situation at the time of adoption.

About some other pet preferences -- raccoons, ferrets, squirrels, hamsters, rats, snakes, birds, fish, reptiles.....then, there are the bigger animals, horses, cows, pigs.....if the creature lives, moves, someone will adopt it as a pet. Wait.....what about those pet rocks a few years ago and now we have robots.....what next?

Could my attachment to my netbook, cell phone, IPhone or IPad be considered some sort of pet? No-o-o, my refrigerator, oven, microwave, coffeemaker aren’t pets, are they?


  1. oh, now, that Krap-tidious Kitty was just too much for morning viewing! LOL

    i wuv dogs...

  2. We've had cats always and dogs sometimes. My parents had parakeets and canaries when I was growing up which I thought very cool but don't think I'd consider for myself given the work involved. They were quite popular back in those days.

  3. I really wish my two cats had learned to use the toilet, since I am tiring of the twice daily scooping of the litter box.

    We haven't had a dog in about 10 years now, and I wonder if (once my cats are gone) if I will get another. Mr. kenju wants one, but he can't take it for walks, so all the "maintenance" would fall on me - and I'm doing more than I care to at present.

  4. I had a cat for a while growing up...until my mother helped it 'run away.' She wasn't that fond of having a cat in the house. I also had a dog when I was in my teens; but it really wound up being my Dad's dog since it was a time in my life when I became busy with other things. For someone who loves puppies and kittens, I'm surprised I never got one for my kids when they were growing up....I guess I was just too consumed with kids. We did have hamsters and fish though...that was about as much as I could take on at the time.

  5. We always had a dog when I was growing up and I never had a cat until my 'then teenage' daughter was given a kitten by a friend. That cat did not enamor herself to me; she scratched my furniture, scratched a hole in my new carpet, and brought me dead birds.

    I know there are good cats and bad dogs, but I will take a dog for a pet every time.