Pet Peeves: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly About Pets
The perfect playful dog
My first dog experience
Growing up I was not an animal person. We had a variety of pets, but the only one I liked was our guinea pig Jose. I thought he was cool because he brought down the rafters every morning whistling for his breakfast. But we never had a dog. Which was just as well because dogs scared me to death. When I was about four, I went to play with my friend David. I heard a lot of commotion in his garage, and then I heard these words: "Hey, there's Lori. Let's sic him on her." I was clueless what "sic" meant so I just stood there like a dummy. Suddenly, I heard this deep, menacing bark and the door flung open and out jumped the meanest doberman I had ever seen; actually, he was the only Doberman I had ever seen.
Of course I screamed bloody murder and ran for home. But he was lean and mean and caught me in his jaws right away. He had a hold of the nap of my shirt, like a mama dog would carry her pups, except it was my shirt, not my neck. Dobbie (I call him Dobbie) started down the street with my shirt in his teeth. Whenever Dobbie got tired, he dropped me for a moment, then picked me up again and proceeded on. We lived on a circular block, so we actually ended up right in front of my house. Now Dobbie had no inkling that I lived there, so he wasn't planning to stop. But my blessed mother bolted out of the front door and yelled at the top of her lungs, "Hey, put her down!" Dobbie stopped dead in his tracks, let go of me, at which time my mom said "Run Lori." Then my mom proceeded to scold Dobbie with all the venom she could muster. He didn't move a muscle and had the look of a boy caught in the act of stealing. After his dressing down, he ambled off to look for some other prey. Mom got me in the bathroom and checked me over from head to toe. Not a scratch. This is actually quite telling about Dobbie. He could have mauled and killed me. But he didn't, thank God. However, Dobbie left me with a tremendous fear of dogs.
For years I was terrified of dogs who barked. There were some wiener dogs behind a fence in my neighborhood who went ape whenever I passed by and it filled me with terror. This went on for years and I never got used to it. I was however fine with dogs who were well behaved.
The pros of dogs
I grew up to love dogs however. We had several dogs when I was raising a family. Here is my list of what I like about dogs:
- They are loyal. If you treat them with love and respect they will always be there for you and love you despite your flaws.
- They are more excited to see you when you come back from taking out the trash and than a soldier meeting his sweetheart after a year long deployment.
- They appreciate the meals you provide. I could never get my kids or husband to wag their tails bark for joy when I fed them, but boys howdy, my dogs always have.
- They are playful even when they are past the puppy stage.
- They are good company when you are down, lonely, or upset, and when you are happy too.
- They have strong personalities.
- They are strongly relational animals. Dogs are hardwired to have relationships. In the wild with each other, and in domestic situations with their families too. Ignore a dog all the time and it will have emotional problems. Spoil him too much and he'll be just a obnoxious as a spoiled kid. Love and respect them and set boundaries and rules and you will have a very happy dog and you will be a happy master.
The cons of cats
Aside from being very allergic, I have never been able to bond with a cat. They are not relational enough for me and are harder to train (in my experience). They always seem to be at one extreme or another. Here is my list:
- They often are much more aloof than dogs. You can be away for a week, walk into the house, and they will look at you momentarily from their throne on the top of the sofa, then turn away and sleep. It's as if they are saying "Oh, it's you. Ho hum."
- They can be neurotic. I have met many of them. Of course dogs can be too, but in my experience there are more cats that are high strung.
- They are harder to train than dogs.
- I don't like to be rubbed against every time I sit down. These are of course the kind of cats that are not aloof but more on the affectionate side.
- They bring you disgusting "gifts" from the rodent, bird, and reptile families and lay them in a prominent place for you to admire. My mom lived in a very small, desert community. Her cat was a mighty hunter. He left gifts for her by her desk every day. You wouldn't believe the creatures he brought in. One day I went to spend the weekend. Mom was at the store so I decided to bathe my young son. I pulled back the shower curtain and there in the tub was a disemboweled rabbit and his stuff all over the place. I nearly died.
- They purr and keep you awake at night when they want to sleep by your head.
- They have tongues like sandpaper. Dogs are smooth.
- Their bodily fluids and solids are wretched smelling. I do not like cat boxes and kitty litter.
- They spray if they are not fixed (although that is the owners responsibility).
- They are picky about their food. A dog will eat most anything.
- I almost forgot about the hair balls they cough up.
Nellie is a good lassie
Exceptions of course
Each has their exceptions. There are lot of badly behaved dogs in the world. However, Cesar Millan and other dog experts will tell you that ninety nine percent of the time it's the owners fault. But there are breeds that have troublesome traits. Some are high strung, some are more powerful and aggressive, some are most of the time too noisy (I hate yippee things), some have chewing and digging problems that even training doesn't seem to help (but then again there are many training styles that are ineffective to begin with). Most dogs love garbage and anything they can find to eat they aren't supposed to. They overeat and eliminate it all back up on the carpet if they are not watched. And they love to beg. Some dogs cannot help but herd. It's in their DNA. I have a wonderful Collie. The only complaint I have with her is that when I come through the gate after being gone, she will follow behind me all the way to the door herding me. She does his by pushing her nose against my behind or the back of my legs. I always try to pet her when I get home and make over her, but she still does this. It's kind of cute, but more annoying. I could go on, but as I said before, many behaviors can be caused by lack of discipline and improper training. Dogs need a firm and loving hand.
There are also exceptions with cats. There are some that are so loving and attentive and sweet and playful. Cats also need less grooming, and bathing most of the time is unnecessary. They don't require (mostly) as much attention. If they are a house cat, you don't have to worry too much about their leaving "gifts" unless you have rodent problem indoors. That is the time you want them to hunt, but some cats play with their prey instead of killing it. We had a cat like this. His name was Mealy Mouth because he meowed in a very annoying way all day long. We could never figure out what he wanted. The family (except for me) loved on him and he was well fed, just somehow very needy. Anyway, we lived in the country and had plenty of mice to kill indoors. We'd walk into the room and he'd be batting around a little mouse or vole. He never killed them. We went back to traps and poison (out of his reach of course). One day he never came home. Living in the woods we think a critter got him. It's a common problem in this area.
Don't let your toddler walk the dog
A grievous facebook post by a friend
"Our dear friend, Fred (our dog) was killed today by a pit-bull and another dog. We are grieving. He was rescued by us 1 & 1/2 years ago. He was tied up where he was before. We let him run and be free on our ten acres. He went out every morning to see what had been on the property while he was sleeping. This morning he met with his doom. I don't know why people who keep attack dogs let them run free. I love animals - why do I have this great sorrow over all animals!"
Pet owner problems
Most pet behavioral issues are due to the owner's lack of discipline and training. There are some things I've noticed about pet owners that really bother me. We had some friends with an indoor cat. Nice enough fellow but he used a cat box and then was allowed to walk all over the kitchen counters. YUCK! GROSS! Then the owners prepared meals for us on those counters without cleaning them first. Not to mention the risk of cat hair in your food. I've actually had other cat owning acquaintances who allowed this too.
I went to stay with some friends last year for a week. I walked in and nearly died at the smell. There house was immaculate. I knew it was cat box smell. It was so overpowering I could taste it in my food and had to open the window in my room at night just to get some fresh air. I tried to discreetly search for the cat box and clean it but I couldn't find it. I arrived two days later after being gone all day and the house smelled normal. They cleaned the cat box. I finally found that it was by the door going into the garage.
Much annoying to me is a dog who wants to jump up on me constantly. The owner will scream "Fido, get down," but Fido continues on and on as do the master's commands and pleas to stop. I know someone with a dog like this. If I pet him it only makes it worse. When we go for car ride somewhere and this dog is in the car, he is whimpering and whining and breathing all over my head and neck from the back seat. It's unbearable.
And what can be worse than the happy humper dog. Anything that walks, talks, or chews gum gets a nice friendly humping. Get the fellow fixed. Actually I know of a female dog who the minute my dog walks in the door for a visit will mount her (I guess she's a gay dog, lol) go to humping and bark and bark loudly as she's doing it. This is an act of dominance of course. It scares the heck out of my girl. Needless to say, the owner screams or laughs and nothing is done to stop it. I don't bring my dog over anymore.
I have promised myself I will never be owner to a small, yippee dog. Chihauhua's are the most annoying dogs on the planet. They do nothing but yip yip yip. It's even worse when there are more than one. I firmly believe however that they can be trained to not do this.
When you invite people over who do not like animals or are allergic, find a way to separate the animal from your guests. I've heard people say, "It's my house, it's my pet's house, if they don't like it too bad." Why invite them then? Especially if the issue is allergy.
We had friends that had a little poodle. He was spoiled really bad. When he came into a house other than his own he was insecure and would pee or poop sometimes. The husband friend put him on our kitchen table one time (I can't remember why) and he promptly urinated all over the table (the dog not the friend). I was, shall we say, vocal over this. I wasn't mad at the dog, it was our friend's responsibility. Then they let him run and walk all over our leather sofa. When I asked nicely to please not let him do that it was "Oh we keep his nails clipped, he can't hurt anything." Excuse me, but this is my house, my couch, my rules. These folks were asked to leave their pet at home from then on. We were the bad guys of course.
I would encourage pet owners to ask the perspective host's permission to bring a pet, and not act like they're axe murderers if they politely decline. My sisters and I used to tease (but we really meant it) our dad that he treated his dog better than he treated us. It became a family joke, but then again, it wasn't really funny because the dog was ill mannered and spoiled rotten. His doggie was eventually not welcome.
One time we had neighbors who kept their dog out back all night. He barked all night long. My husband and I lost a lot of sleep. We were somewhat friends with these people but they acted like we were the problem when we brought it up. They simply said no, they wouldn't do anything. We asked, "Don't you hear him? How do you sleep?" They shrugged and said "We do just fine." This infuriates me. There is no excuse for letting your dog bark all night keeping the neighbors up.
Pet owners who take offense: Why the sense of entitlement when you are confronted with a problem pet? Why does everyone have to love your pet? Why does everyone have to treat it (spoiling and allowing bad behavior) like you do or they are bad? Some people just don't like animals, or don't like your animal. Why take it personally?
Most of these examples I've given are the pet owners attitudes, lack of training, or ignorance. I think we get used to our animals behavior and forget or fail to see how it affects people who visit.
Mama treated Pebbles like this
But the real Pebbles was like this
The story of Pebbles the she-devil show dog and her disturbed master
One last story. I used to work at a deli in a major supermarket chain. We had a customer who was totally crazy about her little Pebbles. I forget what kind of dog she was, but she was a purebred show dog, of the wee, yippee variety. She carried pebbles in a sling and talked endlessly about Pebbles cuteness, accomplishments, and how much both she and Pebbles hated her husband. The feeling was probably mutual. Anyway, she would ask for samples of the most expensive brand of lunch meat ($10 per lb) to see if Pebbles liked it. She would ask to have Pebble try a slice of this turkey, that turkey, this beef and that ham. She did it every time she came in which was at least once a week. We had to do it. Then she would order the lesser product. After a couple of years she started asking if Pebble could sample the Jo Jo potatoes or chicken strips (deep fried). Then she would buy a piece for Pebbles. I couldn't resist one time saying "You feed Pebbles this fatty, greasy food?" She was embarrassed and quit doing this. We were expected to be ecstatic that Pebbles came calling. If we were busy and had lines of customers, Pebbles mama doubled her efforts to try to get us to fawn all over Pebbles. Truth be told, Pebbles was a snarly, nasty, biter. A couple of times one of the girls would try to give Pebbles a piece of something and she snapped and snarled. I can remember twice walking by and she nearly devoured me. Of course Mama found this endearing.
But this is nothing. All we in the deli got a written and in-person invitation to Pebbles' birthday party. In honor of Pebbles' birthday, mama spent $200 on professional portraits, which of course we had to look at and "oo" and "aw" over. All but one of us made our excuses. But there was one gal who was a sucker for anything in the animal kingdom. She went and you won't believe the story she came back with the next day.
The house was lavishly decorated for Pebbles' birthday. A sign "Happy Birthday Pebbles" was strung across the room. There was a smorgasboard of food (people food) and cake, alcohol, party favors, are you gagging? I did when I heard about it. But it gets more ridiculous. This gal from the deli was given a tour of the house. Pebbles had her own lavish boudoir, and a fancy bed in every room in the house (a quite large, fancy home), bathrooms included...oh, except for the husband's bedroom which was separate from the wifes. I actually feel sorry for the woman, her husband, and Pebbles. This is quite frankly disturbing. Wouldn't you agree?
This story had nothing to do with why I prefer dogs, but it does illustrate owner behavior that is unhealthy for the animal and the family. That Pebbles was a dog is irrelevant. She could have been a cat, ferret, or gold fish. Animals are not gods. There are too many who treat them this way.
Which do you prefer, dogs or cats?
It's just my preference
Dogs are my preference for a pet for all the reasons I listed. And I listed what I don't like about cats. But please don't hear me say that cats are bad pets and people who have cats are bad. Everyone has their preferences and reasons for the preference. I have friends who have lovely cats and I appreciate them from afar. I am happy for my friends who receive great joy from their cats.