Today I was in my backyard putting cat poo in the trash (pet ownership is so glamorous), when I heard this horrible noise, like a dog was slowly being skinned alive. But no — it was just a beagle. This beagle came running into my yard chasing the squirrels, who obviously were tormenting him and causing him great pain at his inability to catch them and eat them. (Between Cleo and this character, I’m surprised the poor squirrels in my yard aren’t nervous, gibbering idiots. Oh wait, they actually are.) I shut the gate behind him, got some water and hotdogs, and waited for him to come to me so I could get his owner’s phone number off his collar. She was at work, so I offered to keep him in the yard until she could come get him.
For the next hour, he ran around the yard terrorizing the squirrels and annoying the neighbors with his baying. And then apparently he was done with all that and sailed right over the fence. My neighbor saw him racing out of the yard, on his way to chase other squirrels in other yards.
It sure got me missing my old dog, Ruffy, short for Rufus (he was a very red-gold golden retriever). Ruff died a couple of years ago of cancer; he was only six. I just can’t bring myself to get another dog. Losing him about killed me, and I don’t want to go through that pain again anytime soon.
But I know it will happen eventually, because dogs do have certain advantages over cats:
- Dogs come when you call, or at least when you call with a hotdog in your hand. If I walk through my house calling for Princess, after about a half-hour, when I finally stumble upon her in some odd place, like esconsced in sweat pants on the bottom shelf in my closet, she will look up at me with an expression that says, “Why have you been saying my name continually for the last half-hour? That was so annoying!” We once found the kitten asleep, buried in a box of baseball caps in my son’s room. Another time she was among old toys in a storage box beneath his bed. Princess was once found sleeping behind the dryer (she can’t fit anymore). Boo routinely lounges on the top of the kitchen cabinets. Keas sleeps inside the loveseat in my daughter’s room. Dogs simply don’t do this. They sleep right in the middle of the floor where everyone can trip over them and consequently either pet them or maybe produce a hotdog.
- Dogs don’t do this to toilet paper rolls:
- Dogs lay on your lap without doing that claws in/claws out thing. Holding a cat requires that you frequently say “ouch.” This is simply not relaxing.
- Dogs don’t hack up hairballs. Unfortunately, they do crap on the carpet more, so this is kind of a dead heat. I think I prefer the hairballs.
- Dogs are always hungry. (Didn’t we already cover this?) When you dish up dog food, the dog is thrilled, he is joyous, he loves you so much. He can’t decide whether to eat or lick your face. Cats come to the food dish at a dignified pace, eat a few mouthfuls, think, “Oh, this crap again,” then wander off. I have a male cat who needs urinary-tract-health food, two female older cats who need fat-girl food, and a kitten who needs kitten food. None of them ever finish a meal, so they all swap bowls constantly. The kitten loves the diet food; the fat girls love the rich kitten food; everyone hates the urinary tract food. And Boo throws everything up anyway, so what’s the point?
- When a dog sleeps with you, he must sleep on his back, parallel to the end of the bed, arms and legs thrust out to the sides. He will dream frequently, whimpering, flailing, and sometimes barking. Cats curl into the smallest ball of fur possible. They sometimes snore very quietly, and frequently purr. Cats definitely win on this one. It’s like sleeping with a tranquilizer. I should name my next cat Valium.
- Dogs walk on a leash. Cats either go into a demon-possessed, twisting frenzy (Boo), or just freeze and fall sideways, stiff-legged, and then lay still until someone removes the horrible harness (Keas). The only cat I’ve met who liked a leash was Princess. I used to let her poke among the bushes in the front yard, and she was perfectly happy on the leash. But this ability to walk on a lease is kind of huge. Walking your dog is a great way to meet people. Walking a cat is a great way to end up in the ER.
- Dogs stay in the yard (except for beagles). When Boo gets outside, he immediately races to the walnut trees out back, swarms up a trunk, and sits on a branch smirking at me as I try to tempt him down. Hogdogs do nothing for him. The only thing that works is sweet-talk. He was once hiding in a bush, and as I told him over and over that he was the most beautiful cat in the world, the entire bush vibrated with his purring. Did he come out? No. He is a cat, after all. He strolled back into the house when he was good damn and ready.
So, I love my cats for being cats. I love dogs for being dogs. At some point, I will find some stray puppy who loves cats or at least allows them to claw, smack, jump upon, sneak attack, and generally consider themselves better than him. I will make him my own, and he will be happy, because I will come bearing hotdogs. The older cats will be happy, because they will think they are genetically superior to him. The kitten will be happy, because she will have another animal to chase, and perhaps she will actually be able to ride this one like a pony. My husband will be happy, because dogs are more manly than cats.
I will be happy, but scared, and will think of Ruffy a lot.
As for Chesney the dog, hopefully he is one of those homing-pigeon dogs who find their way home no matter how far they roam, and tonight he will be happily chowing from his food dish, remembering the nice lady with the hotdogs.
(My apologies to Shakespeare for trashing the Hamlet thing.)