I have developed a reputation over the years for hating dogs. I would like to dispute this fact right here. I do not HATE dogs. I just don't LIKE most dogs. First of all, I am a cat person. Just like with other major showdowns in our world, you can only take one side. Coke/Pepsi - I choose Pepsi. Star Wars/Star Trek - I choose Trek. UF/FSU - well, on that one I hate them both. So when it comes to the dog/cat showdown, I land on the side of cats. Why, you may ask? Fair enough question.
- Size - I don't like big dogs. Cats are the perfect size to sit on your lap and get loved on. When you have a big idiot dog wanting snuggled, it is annoying. They lean all over you and knock you over. Plus it is like having another person in the house. Cats are small and don't take up a lot of space. Advantage: Cats.
- Bathroom Issue - Cats you send to the litter box IN the house. You clean that out regularly. Pretty easy. Dogs you walk around OUT of the house. They traipse all over the yard, sniffing every blade of grass and trying to eat whatever they find. Lizards, bugs, mulch, plastic, turds. They are disgusting. If the cats eat turds, at least I'm not watching it while getting soaked by the afternoon storm that ALWAYS is happening RIGHT when the dog needs to go out. You take a dog out and they start off sniffing, wander around the yard for ten minutes, end up right back where they started and go potty. The cat just walks off into another room and is done. Advantage: Cats.
- Status - Cats are not people. They don't think they are people. They have no interest in being people because they believe in their hearts that they are far superior to people. Why would they demean themselves? Dogs, on the other hand, think they are people. They want to sleep where people sleep, eat where and what people eat, sit where people sit. They always feel like they need to be in the middle of everything. They are like extremely insecure children. "What's going on? Are you talking about me? Why wasn't I included?" Unfortunately, dog people have no problem encouraging this behavior and treating their dogs like people. Here is part of my problem. We always had cats growing up and also always had dogs. The dogs had jobs. They were guard dogs. They slept outside, ate outside, drank water out of buckets. They were not even allowed into the house. That was until we got one exceptionally stupid dog named Red. He was a big dope - barked at plastic bags, got scared of airplanes. He was a big baby. My mom felt for this big lug, so he got special treatment. He got to come in the house when it was cold or raining. My mom used an old purple sweatshirt and made him a shirt for when it was cold. What a dork (the dog, not my mom). I'm used to dogs being outside and being, well, dogs. Cats could care less about any of this. Advantage: Cats.
- Intelligence - Cats are smart. They are conniving and plotting and planning. They always look like they are thinking about how to kill you and assume your identity. I am not threatened by this. I appreciate it. Dogs can be very dumb. Not all dogs are dumb. I'm sure your dog is a Mensa candidate. But dogs do dumb things. They eat their own puke. They chase cars. Golden retrievers have been known to hang themselves while tied up outside. They sit there with their tongues hanging out, which doesn't help their cause. Advantage: Cats.
So, I have always been partial to cats. But there has been an exclusion to this - one loophole. I like small dogs. In some ways, small dogs are superior to cats. They fit on your lap. They are sweet. You don't have to deal with the shedding thing most cats do. You don't have to worry you will wake up chained up in a cellar while the cats eat your fine meats upstairs. Sure you still have the bathroom issue and the less-than-stellar IQ tests. But there are some real benefits to a small dog. Even still, I am not a dog person.
My big problem is that I live with three dog people. Heather, Josiah, and Natalie LOVE dogs. They always are drawn to dogs and want to play with them. They like it when dogs lick them, even their faces. [Oh, I forgot that in my list. The face licking. AND the butt sniffing. Repulsive.] Heather grew up with dogs. Josiah and Natalie have always loved them. I have known for years we were destined to end up with a dog. My saving grace came when Gabe came along. For some reason, he has been terrified of dogs. Not like me, where he didn't like them. He was physically terrified of them. So, now I didn't have to ban the canines on my own. I could just say, "Well Gabe is terrified of dogs." As much as the kids and Heather love dogs, they love Gabe more. We would try to get him comfortable with them. He has had a couple that he was okay with. But he was still jittery. So we continued to be dog-less.
So this is our dog, Katie Bell. How did this happen? Well, the deck was stacked against me, to be honest. We were at the Oviedo "Mall" the other day and decided to get lunch at the Food Court. Since everyone has to eat at different restaurants, I went to pull some cash out of the ATM by the Food Court, but it was broken. (I know it is hard to believe something at the Oviedo "Mall" wouldn't be in perfect working order.) So we ended up walking over to Dillard's to use their ATM. On the way, we passed Pet Rescue by Judy, who uses a store front on weekends. The kids begged to go in, so I kept going to Dillard's and Heather took them in to see the animals. When I came back a few minutes later, they are all standing in front of the store. Josiah and Natalie are pleading with Heather (which I expected), and Gabe was standing there crying. When I got even with them, I asked Heather, "What happened? Did he get bit or is he just scared?" She looked at me and said, "No, actually he's upset that we can't bring that one dog in there home with us."
Well, dang. I knew the day would come when Gabe was okay with dogs. But I didn't expect it so soon. And I certainly didn't think he would be crying because we didn't get a particular dog. I looked at Heather with a quizzical look on my face. "Seriously," she said. "There's a little black dachshund mix in there and he loved it." Now, that's not fair. Everyone in the family knows that the one kind of dog that I have always been partial to was dachshunds. I even have a magnet on the refrigerator of one. I went in to the store with them to check out this miracle dog and see Gabe's reaction. He was completely terrified of every dog in the store. Except this one.
We talked about things at lunch and came up with a plan that could work involving Josiah's birthday and the dog. But I wanted to see Gabe interact with the dog. We went back to the store for nearly an hour to let the kids play with the dog. By the time we left, it was apparent this dog had some kind of special bond with our kids. So we set the wheels in motion to see what we could do to get the dog. There was a whole list of things that had to work right for this to happen - the landlord, the owners, the other people contributing to Josiah's birthday stuff. Each step worked out perfectly. So now we are dog owners.
Even though this is "Josiah's dog," you already know how this is going. As I have been typing this post, where has Katie been sitting? That's right - on my chest. It is a hard thing to train a dog. We also have to train kids on how to have a dog. They don't think to take her out enough or give her enough time outside, so she has had some accidents. They don't remember to feed her. They don't get down on the floor to play with her enough. So I have had to step in while they are learning. Everyone wants a dog, but they don't always want the responsibility of it. So they are learning, especially Josiah. He told me the other day, "I'm glad I have her, but I never knew she would be so much work." I laughed, partly because I completely understood and had said the same thing once we had kids, partly because he has no idea just how much work it is because he isn't doing all of it.
It has been stressful, to be sure. Last night I was having a hard time. I am a pretty big guy (shocker, I know). The dog is very tiny - she is just six pounds. When she makes a mess or does something wrong, I have to jump up to correct her and stop it. That is probably terrifying to a very small dog. Last night, she was quivering and trying to run away into the bushes after I caught her peeing on the floor and corrected her. She just sat there, paralyzed in fear. That makes you feel great. I hate the fact that she gets scared of me, but she has to learn. From my own history, I have never wanted to have my kids or any small creature fear me. Of course, as I told Heather last night, if I didn't care so much I wouldn't care. That is the thing ... I love the dog. I keep saying I don't, but everyone knows I'm a liar. I love having a little animal love me and sit on me. She is very sweet and fun. She may be Josiah's dog, but she thinks I'm her person. I can be her person, but I still am not a dog person.