According to the Humane Society, there are more pet cats in the United States than there are pet dogs, but more households have dogs than cats. That’s because more of the cat-owning households own more than one cat than dog-owning households own more than one dog. I’m speaking specifically about Mrs. Annette Ficarello of Topeka, KS (known as “The Kansas Cat Lady”) who owns, at last count, 457 cats with which she lives in an 800 square foot house carpeted with kitty litter.*
Personally, I don’t see the point in cats. They’re like the friend you always suspected didn’t like you as much as you liked him and he was just kind of doing you a favor hanging out with you so you were always trying too hard but it didn’t matter and one day this friend started hissing at you and jumped onto your shoulder and dug his claws into your neck.
Also, I’m allergic to cats.
From the age of 10 or so, except for the years I lived in Manhattan, I’ve had a dog. Not the same dog, of course, because that would have to be a really old dog now which would almost certainly be peeing continuously on my foot.
I didn’t own a dog in Manhattan because I don’t think you should own a dog in Manhattan, but if you are going to own one, at least don’t get a big one. Sometimes you see a person walking a dalmation down Broadway and you just know the person lives in a studio apartment and that the dalmation has to occasionally double as a guest bed.
I’ve had two wire haired fox terriers, one keeshond (think large gray Q-tip with eyes) and now a Shetland Sheepdog. There was also a toy poodle, or miniature poodle, or some reduction of an actual poodle that was mostly my mother’s dog. I’ve only had one mutt, during my first marriage.
The dog we had was okay, though.
My canine philosophy is that a good-sized dog is one you can carry tucked under one arm if you have to. So I’ve never had a setter or a lab, or one of those dogs that always have drool coming out of their mouths and are so happy to see you they shake their heads violently and you spend the rest of the day trying to get saliva off your pants. I also don’t like rodent-sized dogs like the ones celebrities carry in their purses or those nondescript fluffy little white things that everybody seems to have. You know what I mean: they have funny names like Lhasa Apsos, or Shih Tzus, or Honey Pie.
I don’t think well of people who try to blend dogs together to get one that meets their exact specifications. “Oh, yes, I have a Labradoodle because it’s friendly like a lab and hypo-allergenic like a poodle.” “My Cockapoo is loyal like a cocker spaniel and, like a poodle, it doesn’t shed.”
Since when have poodles become the tonic of the dog world? It’s like breeders are saying, “They’re not that great by themselves, but as a mixer…” I do think, however, that a good mixed breed dog would be a beangle: half beagle, half Beanie Baby. It would howl once in awhile, but it wouldn’t need much exercise.
I do admire people who have mutts. They are the great risk-takers of the dog-owning world. You go to the shelter and pick out a puppy and it’s like eating in Chinatown; you may have an idea what the main ingredient is, but what else is in there is anybody’s guess. At the park where I take our dog, I occasionally see a mutt that’s predominantly black lab and dachshund. It looks exactly like a lab with its legs cut off. I asked the owner once how those two breeds managed to mate in the first place. She didn’t know, but she assumed a table was involved.
I’ll get to our dog in my next post, but for now, I want to leave you with a frightening vision, that of Zeus. According to The Guiness Book of World Records, Zeus is the largest dog in the world. Ever. And that includes the massive Bernardasaurus, the long-extinct ancestor of the modern-day St. Bernard. (Archaeologists have discovered huge heaps of fossilized drool.)
It’s one thing when your dog drinks out of the toilet bowl; Zeus drinks from the kitchen sink. When Zeus stands on his hind legs, he towers over Shaquille O’Neal!
I do not know why someone would want to own a dog that resembles an Imperial Walker from Star Wars. Where we used to live, we’d occasionally see a blue Great Dane named Jupiter. Sweetest dog, but she’d push against your leg so you could pet her and it was like having an SUV leaning on you.
The good news is that Zeus could eat those fluffy little white dogs for breakfast. And he could certainly even out those cats vs. dogs statistics.
See you soon.
*I made Mrs. Ficarello up, but you know who I’m talking about.