Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Why I'm a Dog Person

I caught this strange article online today...

Dog saves owner, dies trying to save cat - Yahoo! News

Here's the summary.... The cat starts the fire and, to make matters worse, won't leave the burning house. The dog, on the other hand, saves her owner and apparently tries to get the cat out too (though I'm not sure how the dog thought she was going to do that). Sadly, both cat and dog die in the fire.

Stupid cat. Although, if the dog was so clever, why didn't she just leave the cat and get out while she still could?

Don't get me wrong, I don't hate cats. I'm just not a "cat person". When I tell my pet to get off the bed, I want it to remove itself from the sheets the way a flea leaps to a new host... not the way cold molasses clings to the bottom of the jar, and not with a dirty look that would make my sailor-tongued husband blush.

We had four cats for a while (fostering homeless kitties until we could find them permanent homes). They were fine, but not nearly as fun or cuddly as the dogs. Sure, Percy enjoyed a good cuddle and he was really into the feather stick... but Dozer loves a good cuddle, plays fetch, and cares about everything I do and everywhere I go. The cats wouldn't have cared if I had never come home from work - as long as they still got fed somehow. If the dogs were in it for the food alone, I doubt they would come running every time my chair squeaks. I doubt they would follow me to the laundry room or eyeball me sideways while I take a shower ("Oh my god, is she really doing that voluntarily?"). And why on earth would they linger just outside the room I'm vacuuming, with a mixture of fear and devotion in their little doggy eyes, trying to stay close to me without getting too close to that monstrous machine?

The dogs make me feel worthy and worshipped. The cats made me sneeze.

Yes, I love animals. (Roaches excluded. They know why.) I love snakes, ferrets, bunnies, rats, alligators, bats, and bees. I love cats too. Animals are cute and interesting and unique. But there's only one kind of animal that I really want to share my life with. I want a pet that will cuddle with me, play with me, love me, and obey me. Yep, I'm a dog person!


Anonymous said...

I think you misinterpret cat behavior the same way you claim people can't read dogs. I have an Amer. Bulldog that everyone thinks is a pitbull and two cats. Yes, my cats greet me and they follow commands like "down" and "off". I've had animals all my life ranging from exotic lizards, birds, livestock, horses, raccoons, to ferrets and all of them were affectionate and joyful. I also have firefighting training and experience. The cat in your story was not stupid. It was following a dominant instinct of many animals *including* humans. Cats and human children try to burrow and hide from the fire. Forest fires move hundreds of feet per second and building fires can move even faster and with greater heat intensity. Even us fire fighters have to dig in when its obviously impossible to run. It can save your life. Unfortunately, in a house there is no way to dig through the floor in most cases which is why children and adults are often found dead at the back of a closet or a cupboard.

I love all animals and hate the hysteria surrounding pit bulls, but if we want to quell the ignorance about them then we need not perpetrate ignorance of other animals even humans. One of my cats consistently warns me of an impending seizure which has kept me out of harms way for years. I couldn't live without her. Of course she had to train me to "listen" to her. I enjoy your blog and website. Keep up the good work.--Day

happypitbull said...

You're probably right - I do misinterpret cat behavior. I'm not a cat person and I don't really "get" cats, even though my primary childhood pet was a cat, and I have fostered many cats over the years. I think, though, that in a social sense it is really not as terrible to misinterpret cat behavior than to misinterpret dog behavior. We (as a society) consider it a really big deal to be injured by a dog, but cat bites and scratches are not really on our radar. Why? I think it's because we cling to the idea that dogs are "man's best friend", and it becomes a very personal affront and a violation of trust when our "best friend" hurts us. On the other hand, cats don't share that position in society. We are more willing to let cats run loose outside, we are more tolerant of cat bites and scratches, and we perceive cats as independent, feisty, predatorial creatures.

Whenever a cat bites or scratches someone, people quickly blame the victim's behavior. The victim touched the cat in the wrong place, or excited the cat, etc., etc. The cat just reacted naturally, right? Yet whenever a dog bites someone, the dog - and sometimes the dog's breed - is to blame. The dog "should have known better." As such, a person's misinterpretation of cat behavior may lead to some sort of injury, sometimes very serious (especially when you factor in allergy to cat bites / scratches), but life goes on. On the other hand, a person's misinterpretation of dog behavior leads to more serious consequences. The dog gets euthanized, people freak out, media has a field day, and new laws get passed.

Hence, my priority is to understand dog behavior, and to help other people understand dog behavior. Misunderstanding cat behavior may lead to a cat scratch, but it does not produce social injustice.