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Reigning cats and dogs May 6, 2008

Posted by eyegillian in cat, change, dog, family, journey, life.
Tags: , , , , , ,

snoozing in the sun

I’ve always been a cat person. One of my earliest memories was of the family cat Dusty, followed in time by Frisky and Trixie and Coffee, then Tigger and Tobey and Kit Kat.

the look

Cuca (on the right) is our current reigning cat. He came to us as a kitten, a timid creature emerging from under bushes in a church garden, mewling pitifully. He is the most playful cat I know, although sometimes he prefers to chase ankles instead of catnip treats.

Cats have always seemed mysterious, graceful, solemn and wild. I remember enticing our family cat onto my bed at night, so I could fall asleep to her comforting warmth and constant purring. In one moment, a cat can be impossibly proper, the incarnation of etiquette. And the next moment — look out — that impeccably sophisticated goddess is suddenly racing across the room after a tinkling ball, or leaping impossibly to the top of the bookcase… and down again!

When I think of cats, I think of Rudyard Kipling’s short story, “The Cat That Walked By Itself” from his Just So Stories:

“…between times, and when the moon gets up and night comes,
he is the Cat that walks by himself, and all places are alike to him.
Then he goes out to the Wet Wild Woods
or up the Wet Wild Trees
or on the Wet Wild Roofs, waving his wild tail
and walking by his wild lone.”

somebody loves me

But now I find I’m a dog person. Now that I live with Cai the magnificent, adorable Cardigan Welsh Corgi (on the left), my life has completely changed. And this Saturday we will welcome Fergus or Robin (top photo, on the left) — we have yet to finalize his name — to our family.

What is it about dogs that has captured my heart? They are so tuned in to you that it feels that you’ve never had a friend so loyal. They are ready to play, to run, to snuggle beside you, to attempt any feat for your pleasure, and theirs. Who would not smile to see them wiggle and wag with delight and anticipation whenever you offer a game, a biscuit, a greeting?

When I think of dogs, I think of Buck from Jack London’s The Call of the Wild, and the intense love and loyalty he felt for his master:

“He had a way of taking Buck’s head roughly between his hands, and resting his own head upon Buck’s, of shaking him back and forth, the while calling him ill names that to Buck were love names. Buck knew no greater joy than that rough embrace and the sound of murmured oaths, and at each jerk back and forth it seemed that his heart would be shaken out of his body so great was its ecstasy. And when, released, he sprang to his feet, his mouth laughing, his eyes eloquent, his throat vibrant with unuttered sound, and in that fashion remained without movement, John Thornton would reverently exclaim, ‘God! you can all but speak!’”

Cats and dogs are just two of life’s pleasures. I know that, without pets, it’s easier to travel and cheaper to eat. A cat can be left alone for the weekend, and the worse you will find when you return is disdain. But a dog is fully committed to being part of your life. 

Since Cai has come to live with us, we have gone for more frequent walks, remembered how to play, and we have met and talked and become friends with more people — even here in the cold environment of a big city — than we could have dreamed. And that is a gift.

(For more stories about Cai and the new puppy, visit my partner’s recent post and read her corgi-tagged stories. And for more corgi goodness, visit the breeder’s blog, or check out the two photo sets featuring Cai on my Flickr site.)

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1. lavenderbay - May 7, 2008

I wonder how much of our own personalities we project onto cats and dogs? And if they represent different parts of ourselves — sophisticated and playful, independent and loyal, for example — wouldn’t that suggest that the more room in our hearts we can make for different creatures, the more whole we are ourselves?

2. Shelley - May 7, 2008

I defintely agree that benefit of pets is mutual. Doing pet therapy you can just see the change in the people you visit when the dogs come to visit.

I have seen violent patients calmly pat a dog, non-verbal patients start to talk and the dogs become the social bridge for integrating a new nursing home resident into the group.

The human-animal bond is nothing short of a miracle and what we receive from them far exceeds what we expend in their direction. Love has no monetary cost.

3. goodbear - May 7, 2008

what a great post! dogs are just so….present. i love my cat, spree. she is beautiful and silly ….during the times she sits fit to schedule for those qualities. looking at her (when she is available for view!) relaxes me.

cody bear is just there, being my best friend. always up for anything, trying to make me laugh or mellow out.

i’m so glad you’re getting a puppy! and i can’t wait for more pictures!

4. Pages tagged "frisky" - May 7, 2008

[…] tagged frisky. Reigning cats and dogs saved by 5 others     ichigomew22 bookmarked on 05/07/08 | […]
(pingback from social bookmarking site)

5. eyegillian - May 7, 2008

Wow — thanks, friends, for your great comments!

lavenderbay — you’ve made a good point. It’s easy to joke how people begin to look like their pets, but it also makes sense that their pets reflect aspects of their own personalities… or at least, they especially see those aspects that represent who they are themselves.

Shelley — how wonderful to be able to see the healing that comes when an animal makes that personal connection with people… I bet you’ve got some great stories from doing pet therapy!

goodbear — I love the way you’ve described the difference between your cat and dog relationships; maybe the point is that people need both kinds of connections.

6. Shelley - May 7, 2008

Actually, to take it a step further, part of the reason it is easy to become friends with the families who select corgis as their breed is probably because they only appeal to people who have similar personality traits to myself.

If you think of all of the books and internet tests that help you select a breed that is “right” for you – really they are no different than Kiersey personality tests.

If I had to characterize people attracted to Cardigans I would say they are for the most part people of above average intelligence (so they can outthink their puppy), who are active (to give it the required exercise) and enjoy taking part in a variety of activities (so their puppy doesn’t get bored). They tend to be “helpers” – most volunteer their time with at least one organization if not several. They are usually laid back people who shun the “keeping up with the Jones’ lifestyle” and are reasonable in their housekeeping – but not fanatical. They have questioning minds – and enjoying researching and attacking problems from different sides. While they can be stubborn, they will relent if offered another reasonable solution.

Now does this sound like a description of any 4 legged critters we know?

7. eyegillian - May 8, 2008

Thank you for your insight into dog-human relationships, Shelley — I’m such a “newbie” at dog stuff. Your comment makes me wonder if asking the question, “if you were a dog, what kind of dog would you be?” would be another way of getting at the personality test… (And, gee, now that you’ve listed some corgi/owner traits, I’d better start earning my helpful/housekeeping/volunteer karma…!)

8. Checkers - May 8, 2008

Wow, Shelley’s right. That description fits my owner to a “t”! Love that picture of Cai-he’s got that look of wonderful Cardigan intensity.

9. Checkers - May 8, 2008

Oh, yes, the puppies above. Cute, cute and cute! Cardigan paws are extraordinary, especially on puppies.

10. eyegillian - May 8, 2008

Hi Checkers — thanks for visiting… twice! I agree with you about Shelley’s description, and I think it sounds a lot like Cai… I’m going to try to be worthy of Corgidom. (And, yes, I do adore those corgi toes!)

11. Emily - July 9, 2008

Congrats on joining the ‘slobber side’! I’m mostly a ‘dog person’ to say the least, but our kitties are also near and dear to us for differnt reasons than we’re close to the dogs.

A relationship with a dog, or dogs, is like nothing else!

Awww to the puppy pic!

12. eyegillian - July 12, 2008

Thanks for your visit, Emily! It wasn’t until I started living with dogs, that I realized how friendly most dog people are. Of the many benefits to owning a dog, I hadn’t anticipated the making of human friends as one of them! People — even non-dog people — are more likely to stop and chat when they see me out with Cai and Fergus… they’ve taught me that socializing is important for humans, too!

13. jamesviscosi - July 19, 2008

When I married my wife, she was totally a cat person and loathed dogs (because she had never been around one that was trained properly). Now she is totally a dog (*COUGH* vizsla *COUGH*) person; while she still likes cats, she can’t imagine being without her vizslas.

Myself, I love cats and dogs equally. I’m a cog person.

14. eyegillian - July 19, 2008

A “cog” person — I love that new word, jamesviscosi — I think it describes me as well. I can’t imagine living without dogs now, even though we’ve hit a few snags (sickness, etc) on the way through puppyhood.

15. sandrar - September 10, 2009

Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. 🙂 Cheers! Sandra. R.

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