I always thought that the whole concept of there being dog people and cat people was probably an over-simplification. But actually, it isn't. The demands of a pet dog and a pet cat are such polar opposites that it's surprising that there are any similarities at all. There are, of course. Both dogs and cats are cute and loveable and like a fuss and a play. Both dogs and cats eat food that stinks out of tin cans. And both of them watch you eat your food with an intensity that makes it clear that they kind of wish they didn't. However, after a week of looking after a mutt I now believe that people who prefer dogs to cats must have a chromosome missing.
|A dog, yesterday|
It is a truism emblazoned on a million bumper stickers that a dog has a master while a cat has a servant, and I think this is the root cause of the difficulties that I'm experiencing. I'm tending to deal with this canine interloper as if it is some kind of firefighting operation. My key concerns are to make sure he gets out to do his excretions and therefore doesn't park anything in the house, and that he doesn't bark because people as highly-strung as I am don't take very kindly to such malarky. It's fairly easy to see why I don't feel that I'm getting very much out of this experience other than a headache. Instead of enjoying it I am largely treating him as if scientists had finally managed to graft working legs onto a piping bag filled with turds.
Although prepared for a few dog things, I'd not factored in quite how much talking in the street dog ownership entails. I spend half of the day in a dialogue with this dog, for at least an hour of which I am in public. They like it, need it and want it. I speak to cats, too, but I've never found it met with anything other than thinly-veiled contempt. I kind of miss that.
And there's the rub: ultimately, cats hate you. They want you to feed them and then leave them be, which is a mission statement not dissimilar to my own. Dogs love you unconditionally all day long, and that freaks me out. But though I am a grouchy bastard with a heart of stone, I am also a creature of logic and reason and logic and reason tell me that this unconditional love means that the dog has no intention of ruining my day. He'd not even have dreamt of it, nor could he even conceive of a way he might go about doing so (dogs are thick). Therefore, if he has ruined my day it can only because I have allowed him to. So the onus is on him to adapt to a new pace of day-to-day life, and on me to be less of a fanny.
There is no prize for guessing which of these is likely to happen first, by the way. Shut up.