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All right, pick your side: Dog or cat?

cats-vs-dogs-1I’ve never owned a pet.  I wanted to when I was younger, but my mother said, “Sure, as long as you take care of it.” At which point I thought about it, and realized, no, I don’t really want to get a dog. So I tried fish, which didn’t work because the one snail we had (to eat the algae) turned into over 500 – I counted.

Then I went to New Zealand, where everyone I knew had an animal. Cats, dogs, horses, cows, sheep – okay, the latter weren’t pets (really), but in a rural farming community animals abound. And for a few months I lived in a household that had a cat named Cypher, and a dog named Dante.

I think I wanted to be a cat person. I liked the idea of unobtrusively luring in those fussy, snobbish, independent creatures, of being the one to tame them, and Cypher was absolutely gorgeous, a sleek black with green eyes and white mittens. Unfortunately, he treated me no better and no worse than any other humanoid who could refill his cat bowl. One night he decided to crawl onto my bed, and I thought, This is it! I’m in! Then I got four hours of intermittent sleep because a 15-inch feline took up two-thirds of a double bed, and I, afraid to crush him, kept waking up. Cypher would not be shoved. Ever. He was like a bloody brick, and I was just a hot water bottle who kept shoving him aside, disturbing his little nap. After that, I went back to cat-feeding biped.

Dante, on the other hand, was part Rhodesian Ridgeback, part Lab, and all love. He more or less confirmed my penchant as a dog lover. I know people put down dogs as undiscriminating slaves to their instincts (uh, the squirrels in “Up”?), but their greatest weakness is also their greatest draw – how can you not return the unconditional love? And Dante was it. He smelled (man, did he ever), but I love that dog.

So it became more or less official: I’m a dog person. I still hesitate to get one while I live in the city (one reason to go for cats – give them food and nine times out of ten, you can leave them alone), but I know that some day, I’m getting a dog.

So tell us: Dogs or cats for you?

– Jean AAR

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