I was walking our puppy Riley the other morning when one of our neighbor’s cats trotted across our path. Riley wanted to chase it, just as he does every creature we see on our excursions.
Riley is a Shetland Sheepdog, so it’s possible that he thinks these squirrels, bunnies and chipmunks are tiny sheep, and he’s supposed to be directing their movements. He’s only 10 months old, so what does he know? Maybe he isn’t even aware that they are different species than he is. They could all be dogs as far as he’s concerned. After all, he has played with a Chihuahua; how can he know that anything smaller than that is much more likely to be some sort of rodent?
Speaking of rodents, the neighbor’s cat, when it crossed our path that morning, had something in its mouth. I’m not sure what it was, but I’m certain it wasn’t a stick.
It had fur.
Not that I would have let Riley chase the cat even if it wasn’t carrying a (presumably) dead thing. When I was a kid, I had a wire-haired fox terrier that got its nose scratched by a cat. Since then, I always assume that cats aren’t going to play nicely.
That goes double for my neighbor’s cats because they’re outdoor cats, so they must be able to fend for themselves. I’ve never understood the concept of having outdoor cats. I mean, what makes them your cats? Because you feed them? Hell, we have a bird feeder in our backyard, but I don’t go around telling people we have pet cardinals. “They’re not here right now,” I could say. “They’re outdoor cardinals.”
I’m not going to get into the whole dogs vs. cats debate. Much has been written on that subject, often to great comedic effect. I will say, however, that it is beyond debate that if pets could vote, cats would be republicans and dogs would be democrats, although it’s easy to imagine Afghans, #100 on the list of smartest breeds, voting for Donald Trump solely on the basis of hair. Also, is it really beyond the realm of possibility that the only reason Fox News is the highest rated 24-hour news network is because its viewership consists mainly of mean-spirited conservative calicos?
Speaking of personalities, according to a study conducted at the University of Texas, dog people are generally about 15 percent more extroverted and 13 percent more agreeable than cat people. This means that I really have no business owning a dog. Except that, if I didn’t have to walk Riley, I’d probably never leave the house.
That same study showed that cat people are about 12 percent more neurotic. I don’t know if that means 12% more cat people are neurotic, or that all pet owners are neurotic but cat people are 12% more neurotic. Perhaps dog people wash their hands 10 times a day and cat people wash their hands 11.2 times a day. Or maybe they lick their hands 10 times a day.
In any case, I won’t mention anything else about how superior dogs are to cats. I don’t want to offend any cat lovers who may be reading this; they might scratch my eyes out. Especially since another study has linked cat ownership with schizophrenia.
Suffice it to say that our Riley would never go out hunting small animals like our neighbor’s cats do. Of course, he does seem to think dried earthworms are a delicacy, and there was that one time when he found a deceased frog and I looked down to see nothing but an amphibious foot sticking out of Riley’s mouth.
But Riley didn’t do the killing. Riley was just, um, finding small treasures as we walked. It’s cats who are the criminals of the pet universe, always sneaking around at night, murder on their minds. They are felonious felines.
Dogs just want to play.
See you soon.
P.S. Happy birthday to my lovely wife Barbara, who has stayed with me for over 32 years despite my disagreeability.