It’s been said that the world can be divided into dog people and cat people. Having had many dogs and voraciously read dog related fiction when I was growing up, I’m firmly in the dog person camp. I have nothing against those cat people. I’m engaged to a cat people, and she’s pretty darn cool in her felinicity. I think there is a third group: the non dog or cat people. Them I find rather sketchy at best.
From Odysseus’ dog Argos to Jack London’s Buck and White Fang to Old Dan and Little Ann in “Where the Red Fern Grows” and many many others, canines have long enjoyed a strong presence in fiction. There is not a corresponding representation of cats. I think this is because cats are more difficult to reduce to stereotypes of noble human traits, ala bravery and loyalty, as dogs so often are. “As the wolverine ripped my flesh, my cat……..went to take a nap.” Although not gripping copy, isn’t that a more accurate animal reflection of our humanity? Really, besides Chuck Norris, who among us is likely to leap in and battle a wolverine?
I’ve had many dogs in my lifetime. My family had a Doberman when I was little. He was very loyal, very smart and very aloof. I had a Keesehound which is really like a sheep with teeth. I’ve had a Shiba Inu. He is an evil genius; the Stewie of the dog world. Currently I have a chocolate lab named Bailey. He has a very high degree of dogness.
I don’t mean fictional dogness. While Lassie would alert you that Jimmy fell down the well again, Bailey would probably piss on the well and then lick his private parts. It has never occurred to Bailey that someone might not actually want their face licked. I have not tested the theory, but I’m pretty sure he would continue fetching a ball until he keeled over dead. He is convinced that virtually everything in the world is edible. I’m not sure he would lunge in to fight an attacking wolverine, but he would certainly bark and growl a lot; because barking and growling is great fun. Bailey is quite confident that him resting his head on you and encouraging you to scratch his ears will in fact make you a better person. He ascribes to Andrew Zimmern’s motto that, “If it tastes good, eat it.” He also ascribes to the philosophy that you should probably eat it even if it doesn’t tast good. He has spent his entire life trying to catch that damn tail that keeps following him. Although he would growl at an intruder, that tail would be wagging and for the small price of a cookie, he would lead anyone to where the jewelry and cash are hidden.
The BSW, certifying her cat personness, has a dog that is nearly devoid of dogness. In fairness, she doesn’t need her dog to have much dogness because she does have me.