That’s behavior that dogs and cats have in common. They aren’t really that much different from each other. They’re animals. They have animal instincts and exhibit animal behaviors. It’s their owners who differ. In the pet world there is a definite dichotomy between dogs owners and cat owners. Are all dog owners insecure and boasters?
Are all cat owners masochistic and apologists?
Let’s look at the facts. Don’t worry if you’re new to doing such a thing, I am, too.
Labrador Address Sign
•A dog owner will brag about how his dog brings him his pipe and slippers every night when he comes home. Doesn’t matter that he no longer smokes—it took him a helluva long time to teach him that trick, and he’s not going to go through that again just to unteach him.
• People regale me with stories of how they love being greeted at the door with huge leaps onto their bodies, and having their faces licked all over. And when their spouses won’t do that, their dogs just might.
• Dog owners like it when they are obeyed. A power to command an animal to sit, beg, lie down, and speak makes them feel like modern day Jack Bucks. (If you’re under 5.0 I’ll save you the trouble of googling him. He was an acclaimed wild animal collector and trainer, and was known as “Bring ‘Em Back Alive Jack Buck.
• They say dogs make great companions, but when I had one, with a wife and a bunch of kids running around, a dog was mainly just in the mix, just another mouth to feed. An expensive mouth—since super market dog food wasn’t good enough for him, although apparently super market human food was perfectly fine for me. No, we bought special formula food, prepared in “clean rooms” by dedicated scientists—this is true, in the pictures they’re all wearing lab coats. •To hear dog owners talk, God never made a dumb dog, and theirs was smarter than the rest of dogdom. Well, I had one, and although he was beautiful he never was a candidate for Uncanny Canine of the Year. I’d throw a stick, and sure enough he took off like a shot, grabbed the stick, often in mid air…and then kept on going—he was a Golden Retriever, but apparently had nobody told him.
• I tracked him down by car a few miles away ten minutes later. It didn’t take much tracking to find a winded dog taking his 80 pound rest in the middle of the road. I just clucked a little, and smiled as he piled with joy into the front seat, slobbering all over the dashboard, ready for our next adventure. No true dog owner type would ever tell that story—. A guy loves to tell you that when he mentions his mother-in-law’s name, King will start barking as if Lizzie Borden was coming through the window, axe in hand. Now, that’s another thing. Dog owners love to give doggedly macho names to their dogs, even if they’re female. Names like “King,” “Spike,” “Fang,” and “Cujo” are just a few examples. Remember, these dogs didn’t name themselves. All that bragging makes dog owners almost as obnoxious as baby owners, or worse, grandchild owners.
• Cat owners are a perverse lot, and we’re proud of it. We do more mock complaining than pointing to accomplishments—because they have none. We say (and mean it) that our cats don’t do tricks, not because they’re stupid, but because they’re smart and have figured out that they don’t have do any tricks. We’ll still feed them and brush them, and clean their litter boxes. All they have to do in return, when they feel like it, is jump onto our laps and start purring.
• We rail at their actions, but the our pride in their indifference and chutzpa shows through. I’ll talk about one of my cats invariably jumping onto my desk, block my view of the computer screen, and then go stand over my fresh cup of tea, his underbelly visibly shedding dander and lord knows what else into the cup. He’s not the one who has to make the fresh cup of tea. It’s a toss up whether I have a smart cat, or he has a stupid owner. So what’s the psychological reason that cat owners revel in telling stories like that? That’s a rhetorical question. I don’t want to know the answer.
• But here’s a puzzler. When we do brag on our cats, our highest praise might be “Tiger isn’t shy. He likes people. He’ll follow you around. He’s just like a dog.”
By Joel Habush