They say opinions are like noses; everyone has one. And while not everyone has a pet, it does seem everyone has an opinion about them. Love the independent nature of feline friends? Can’t imagine life without a tongue-out, tail-wagging daily greeting? You’re in good company. Around 47 percent of American households include a dog, and 37 percent have a cat, according to the 2013-2014 National Pet Owners Survey by the American Pet Products Association. Of course, if you appreciate the benefits of a hair-free home and a schedule that doesn’t revolve around the feeding and digestive needs of a non-human, well, you’re also not alone. Nearly one in three households do not have a pet of any kind, according to the same survey.
In keeping with our pet-themed issue, Scene asked a few locals to opine on the advantages of their preferred pet population, and we bet you can relate to one of these as well. Or perhaps you’ll be swayed to consider the benefits of a different way of pet (or pet-free) life.
By Sarah Carlson
We don’t deserve dogs. They, inherently, are everything we aren’t.
Now, I don’t have to criticize cats to praise dogs, but let’s be real: The very core of a dog’s greatness – its unending loyalty and ability to love unconditionally – automatically puts canines in contrast with felines. Your cat likes you on its own terms; your dog will love you until its last breath.
Yes, I’m #TeamDog.
I mean, cats are fine and sometimes quite cute. But they would also kill you if they could. I read some study somewhere that said as much, and you don’t need me to cite that study for you because you know, down to your bones, its findings are true: if house cats were bigger, we’d be their lunch. And then, full of human, they would take a nap and definitely not care or miss you. That’s a fact. #catfact
Dogs are the kind of beings that will lie down beside their dearly departed masters and refuse to move, even if that brings about their own demise. My dog – a Pembroke welsh corgi named Bama – is lying beside me now (don’t worry we’re both fine), simultaneously snoring and protecting me. It’s the human-dog pact: I feed him and let him outside and give him belly rubs, and in turn, as he sees it, he looks out for me.
Bama came into my life more than eight years ago, when I was living in Alabama on my own for work. We’ve lived in two states and three cities in our time together. He’s endured a lot of humiliating Halloween costumes; I’ve encountered enough corgi hair to construct my own corgi army.
A couple of years ago, I woke up from a nap not long after I’d returned home from gallbladder surgery and found him wedged between my bed and my nightstand – as close as he could get to me. (Remember what I said about his hair? Yeah, he’s not allowed on the bed.) He knew I wasn’t OK, and he knew it was important to be near to me. He knew.
Bama had his own surgery a little more than a year ago, an emergency procedure to repair his back that both saved his life and likely took a few years off mine. We were in the Metroplex for days as he went through the operation and recovery; my bosses found out I intended to work remotely once I’d already left town. Maybe not my smartest move – and oh how I wish Bama would kick in some to cover his bills – but he deserved nothing less.
Dogs in general deserve more than what they receive from society; my kingdom for a way to save them all and help everyone understand their inherent worth. They don’t abandon us, so we shouldn’t abandon them.
My favorite part of the day is when I return from work: As I begin to open my front door, out pops his nose and then his snout. He’s there, waiting, ready to greet me.
There’s no better welcome than one from a dog. We don’t deserve them, but goodness, I’m thankful they love us anyway.
By Leilani Smith
Ever since a dog chased me down and tackled me in front of all my classmates one morning in second grade, I’ve preferred cats. More than that, my friends call me the cat whisperer, and I find that life is always brighter when one is a part of it.
People have strong feelings when it comes to cats. I even know folks who are terrified of cats due to the superstition that they quietly suck your breath while you sleep. That’s just ridiculous. I mean, if a cat is going to do anything to you in your sleep it will most likely be one or more of the following:
- Lick your eyelids.
- Puke within earshot.
- Suffocate you by lying on your face.
In other words, if a cat is going to attempt to kill you, you will know it. And that’s why I like cats.
There are a multitude of other benefits that come with being a cat owner. For starters, cats are faithful comforters if ever you are ill or grieved.
A few years ago, I came down with the flu and Baby Girl never left my side. As miserable as I was, it was such a treat being snuggled by my kitty all day and night. The minute my fever broke, however, she sensed I was better and clocked out. In an attempt to con her back into an all day cuddle fest, I looked her in the eye from across the room and pathetically croaked: “Baby Girl, come snuggle again. I’m still so sick.” She gave a short meow of concern, walked over and, I kid you not, placed her paw on my cheek for two seconds. She instantly pulled back, shot me a dirty look, jumped off the bed and stalked out of the room.
Moral: Yes, cats will comfort you, but do not mistake them for fools by trying to take advantage.
A more practical benefit to owning a cat is that you don’t have to worry about mice running free in your home. That is, if your feline is a good hunter. Domestic since birth, our cats are horrendous hunters. One night, it took two cats and two humans to corner a mouse. The mouse snuck away behind our backs but not before laughing at the sight of four rear ends in the air and heads under the sofa, I’m sure.
Where our kitties lack in the hunting department, however, they make up for in the baking department. Yes, my friends, if you own a cat, then you will get fresh biscuits every day. Since Brody and Baby Girl are excellent biscuit makers, here is their recipe:
1 fuzzy blanket
Begin with fuzzy blanket over lap. Plunge paws into folds of blanket. Knead until
lap flesh is soft and pliable. Finish biscuits by placing full body weight on top of
freshly kneaded lap. Enjoy.
One final note about felines: Cats are not as needy as dogs. But they still have needs. It grates on my nerves to hear people say that cats don’t need any attention. This is simply not true! Even though the reception and amount is on their terms, felines still need affection and company. Neglect is just as stressful to a kitty as to any other living creature.
Cats are loving companions, not furry ghosts that may or may not suck your breath at night.
Birds are birds. Dogs are dogs. Cats are people.
I’ve always loved animals. I loved the animal books of my childhood – Charlotte’s Web, Black Beauty and Where the Red Fern Grows. (Matter of fact, I insisted on writing this anonymously because I am afraid that people will think I am a terrible person, along the lines of the villain I hated the most as a child – Cruella DeVille.) I volunteered at the zoo. My bedroom wall had every horse, puppy and kitty poster you could buy from Scholastic. And before we knew it was bad for them, I always enjoyed taking my children to feed the ducks. So, yes, I think I qualify as an animal lover.
But, please don’t despise me; I am just not a pet person.
Don’t get me wrong — I’m not saying I hate dogs or cats. Saying you hate pets is kind of like saying you hate babies; even if you do hate them, it’s not something you can say. But, truly, I don’t hate pets. They just don’t fit into my life very well.
Having a pet would not be fair to the poor creature. We are a very busy family. Each week you will find one of us out of town for one or two nights a week. Between visiting family members who live away, youth sports, a job that requires travel, church activities, a child away at college, and another child who maintains camp friendships all over the state, we are a family on the go. A poor puppy or kitty would be alone far more than it would have company. Also, being a modern family, even when we are in town, there are at least a couple of nights a week that no one is home until fairly late.
In addition to the attention factor, having a pet would be detrimental to our health. Three of the four of us suffer from severe pet allergies. When I was a kid, my sister had to put her gerbil, Nutmeg, downstairs, because he made me wheeze. My reaction to feline dander is so severe, I once ended up in the emergency room and for years, carried an epi pen. One child has inherited my cat allergies, and the other is allergic to dogs. We have even attempted to spend time with low-allergy breeds like Schnauzers or poodles and even then, we have had medical reactions. Our physician gave us the option to take allergy shots – not something any of us wanted to volunteer for.
Honestly, I’ve treasured family members,’ friends’ and colleagues’ pets, as long as it is from afar. I enjoy seeing photos, hearing stories and even buying presents for the pets of those I love. Whether it is Cali (a former intern’s cat who has cool adventures and sends me text updates), Merlin (my feline nephew for a decade and a half), Beaux (a co-worker’s dachshund), or Percy (the office’s favorite pug), know that I am interested. Just please don’t ask me to pet sit. I’m simply not a pet person.