Today I stopped in at a local pet store to get something for my cat. I was in line to checkout behind this dog and its payment person. The cart was full of dog food and one treat. As the payment person did her thing, the dog was just plain all-over happy. Tail wagging so hard it almost knocked it down. Jumping up to make sure the dog food was really in the cart. Whirling around to make sure no other pooch was going to try to steal the food. More happy tail and bouncing.
Good thing I hadn’t brought the cat. She would have been oh so disdainful of all this happy (and perhaps secretly a bit jealous, because it really looked like fun).
Just another moment at the dog-mart. You can’t help loving it.
The dog days have come.
Welcome excuses for naps
with cats between storms.
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.
Yesterday, I had a dog for an hour or so. I must admit that there was a wonderful feeling of contentment when my dog came up to me and followed me into my back yard. I have never “owned” a dog before, but now I see the attraction. Here’s the story.
I drove home after picking up books at the library to take to storage for our library book sale and was organizing said books into various boxes (fiction, nonfiction, kid books, etc) when I looked up and saw this beautiful dog staring at me from my neighbor’s yard. These neighbors are also cat people and I had never seen this dog before. He was a very large dog, and to a non-dog person looked like a giant husky. Black face and white body with other markings. He and I looked at each other and I swear the dog smiled. He moved slowly toward me and I saw that his hips and legs were not completely under his control. I thought immediately that he had been hit by a car. I looked up and down my street as he came forward and there was no owner in sight. So I said “hi, babe” (even though for whatever reason, I call him he”) and smiled right back at him. He picked up a little speed and before I knew it, he and I were best friends forever. I rubbed his brow and he rubbed my leg. Still no owner, but this was clearly an old dog and very infirm. Up close, his legs did not show evidence of a recent accident, but were more like advanced arthritis that had caused the legs to turn inward. Anyway, we smiled at each other and rubbed, and I started walking around the side of my house toward the gate to my back yard, and this most marvelous creature followed me closely all the way back and through the gate into the yard. I went in and got him a big dish of water and he drank a bit as I watched. But, now what?
I belong to Nextdoor, a computer thing that allows messages to be sent to surrounding neighborhoods, so I posted a message that I had found a dog, and included his picture. No responses came in, so I called SCRAPS, our local animal protection group, and explained that I had found this dog (actually, he found me) but that I could not keep him and could they help him? Yes, they could. A super lady came within an hour and she and the dog walked happily off to the truck (after she was able to get him back on his feet–he had decided to lay down for a nice nap and could not get up). And just like that, my dog was gone. I called later and was told that SCRAPS was taking my dog to the vet to see about fixing up his rear legs. Perhaps his owners will think to call them. The super lady had said that he might have been frightened by a severe thunderstorm we had the night before and worked loose. If that is not the case, then it is my hope that the dog will find a new home where the people will take really good care of this marvelous creature.
So, now I know a little bit about life with dog. I simply cannot forget that peaceful feeling of having dog keep me company on that short walk.
Here is Dog.
This is my cat. She spends a great percentage of her time admiring the cat in the mirror. I am not absolutely sure whether she knows she is admiring herself, but I do think she does know because she is a very smart kitty. She has been doing this mirroring for most of her life, and like me, I think she now wonders where all that white fur (in her case) came from, seemingly overnight.
The cat first discovered herself when she was just a kitten and was helping me work a yard sale in our driveway. I had set the mirror out so that people could try on hats and clothes, but somehow it ended up leaning against the outside of the house, at ground level. At some point, I noticed some people stopping to smile in that vicinity and discovered the little cat in meatloaf pose in front of the mirror. She had apparently been there for some little time, as she had gathered a crowd to admire her admiring herself. From her demeanor, it was clear that she felt that the crowd was her due, because she was certainly the most beautiful of all–that no one could deny. She stayed in front of the mirror for a very long time, and when a buyer asked to purchase the mirror, she (the cat) gave me one of those cat looks that all cat people know means “you wouldn’t dare”.
So since that long-ago day, the cat’s mirror has leaned against one wall or another, and the cat can very often be found sitting or lying in front of it entranced by the beauty of the cat in the mirror, purring. You can often find me sitting on a nearby chair entranced by the beauty of both of the cats, one of whom is purring and both of whom, of course, are ignoring me entirely.
Walking up, then down my driveway this morning, I see I am being watched. REALLY watched. Huge eyes following my progress over the ice. The head never moved, just the eyes. Ears forward, whiskers on the alert, the little black kitty follows my every step from his perch in the window next door.
It’s actually a bit unnerving, being so carefully watched, even if it’s just a cat (do NOT tell my cat I said that!). That little kitty was counting my breaths, listening for the beats of my heart. Is she friend? Is she walking too close to what’s mine? Does she really mean that smile or is she luring me to the point where curiosity becomes dangerous? Do I dare move? Should I call my minions? Make myself really, really big? Or maybe she is smiling because she is happy, and she has not even noticed me as I sit here so silently, so stealthily, immobile except for my eyes.
Everything I have ever heard or seen about cats tells me that no human can win a staring war against a cat. That came a little closer to being proven this morning, although I was not really staring–just watching him watch me. It did feel good, though, to know that the little kitty is watching over me. He won’t let anything bad happen on his watch! Of course, the question is what is his definition of bad?
Sun brightens the sky
While fog lies low over fields.
Happy dogs unseen.