Sunday, August 2, 2009

Man's Other Best Friend


I come from a family of dog people. We take our preference for canines seriously.

At one time, I was a master at housetraining puppies. You could say I was a puppy whisperer, but they respond better if you speak up. There’s a magical moment when a puppy finally gets it that you want him to poop outdoors instead of on the carpet. You can practically see the lightbulb going off above his head.

After college, I realized quickly that I couldn’t own a dog. Dogs depend on a reliable timetable for feeding, walking, playing and so forth. My work schedule was too chaotic. Plus I was living in a small apartment and barely made enough money to feed myself.

I went without any pets for a few years and it really began to wear on me. I’m the type of person who needs some kind of animal companionship. A friend who was familiar with my dilemma offered me a stray black kitten she found wandering around her back yard. The first one is always free. That’s how they get you.

Owning a cat seemed logical. Cats are more self-sufficient than dogs. They come knowing how to use a litter box. They don’t care how long you’re gone as long as you leave them enough to eat. They do that purring thing which I always thought was nice.

Still I wasn’t completely ready to give up on dogs, so I compromised by giving the black kitten a dog name, Spike. He was an excellent pet and since then I have owned nothing but cats. I have found certain assumptions I made about them to be false. It turns out that cats are not aloof. Or I keep getting the ones that aren’t. They desire just as much attention and affection as any dog I have ever known. I’m now convinced that the only reason cats don’t come when you call is because they don’t understand the concept. They know you’re calling their name, they just don’t get it that you want them to respond. It’s nothing personal. As much as I like the purring thing, I never thought it would be as rewarding as a wagging tail. I was wrong about that too.

My family is still mortified that I have gone over to the dark side of pet ownership. They always assure their friends that I used to be a dog person. Whenever I visit my sister, she thrusts her dog at me in the hope that being close to a canine will somehow jog my senses and break the feline spell.

I have assured my family that someday I will again own a dog. When the time is right and I feel I can fit the time and energy needed for a dog, I will probably adopt one for the the Humane Society. Of course, when that day comes, the dog will have to learn to get along with the cat.

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