As I drive around my neighborhood (or walk if I am feeling energetic), I notice the dogs and cats that are my neighbors. And I think I discovered something about them. It is entirely possible that others have already made this discovery, and/or that I myself have already pointed out the discovery. However, because I am now almost on the edge of being not only a cat lady but also a dog lady, I am paying a great deal of attention to cats and dogs.
My discovery? Dogs are optimists, and cats are pessimists.
All you have to do is look at a dog. Riding (or driving) a car. Chasing a ball. Walking on a leash. Whatever. The dog clearly has everything to look forward to, and knows there will be no disappointment. Dogs sit in the hallways to doors, knowing without a doubt that someone will come along with a leash and be an escort for walks. Dogs are absolutely certain that when they hop on to the passenger seat, they will eventually have an opportunity to be on the driver’s seat to make the order at their locals. Dogs smile because they know the world is made for them. Watch a dog at play, and you have to be happy–they seem to be doing it all for you. They make you part of their life and assume that you will return the favor.
Cats are a bit different. They pretend to aloofness. They are not sure that someone will come to the door immediately to let them in or out. Underneath all of the “I am the best, treat me like the king or queen that I clearly am” persona, cats are a bit worried about their reception. Humans cannot be counted on to attend to the cats’ every need or to admire what is clearly a top of the line being. Cats don’t just raise their eyebrows, looking askance, if you don’t meet expectations, they throw a hissy fit. They also have a bit of an attitude problem which can bring on what they always knew was going to happen–their dreams will not come true. Cats are, in my view, among the sweetest of creatures, but it is not clear that they want you to know it. Cats can be content and purring. But they make no assumptions that you will return the feelings. They make you a part of their life, but expect nothing more than a servant would provide. Or at least that is the pretense.
So perhaps the path to a happy life has a cat or two and a dog or two walking with you. Dogs can teach cats how to think positively and expect the best and cats can teach dogs how to remain a little aloof and pretend disfavor if the best is a little late. A little optimist and a little pessimist. Teaching love. Sounds like a plan.