Cats and dogs
I am getting a pet. Trouble is I can't decide between a cat and a dog.
Having questioned friends, family, and unsuspecting strangers, I find that people have sectored into opposing camps, Dog Lovers and Cat Lovers, and most are willing to jump off a bridge to prove their allegiance.
I myself am neuter -- er, neutral -- so let's review the pros and cons and see if we can't arrive at any conclusions.
The best thing about cats is that they don't bark. How often have I lain awake at 3 a.m. because the neighbor dog, Fuddy, thinks its shadow is an alien invader trying to possess its soul?
In their favor, most dogs are all bark. A cat, on the other hand, will scratch your eye out for staring too long. My sister's cat, Fang, drew blood from my forearm because her moon was in Taurus. Cat Lovers defend the "independent nature" of their pet, pausing only to dab at their facial scars.
The biggest difference between the two species is this: A dog wants your attention, and a cat wants you to be less neglectful. Dogs never want to be alone, not even while moving their bowels. Conversely, a cat will rub your leg for affection, then, by the time you bend down, change its mind and split for the weekend.
Does that mean cats are temperamental? For fear of having an eye scratched out, I will not answer that question. But I did see a flyer reading, Missing baby. Last seen with the family cat following a dispute over cat food.
Dogs aren't so clever. Every time I go outside, Fuddy rushes at me full speed, barking his angry head off, only to be choked to a halt by the same collar that has been tied to the same house for 18 years. So it goes.
That's what dogs do -- protect the house. The only problem is that half the time they're protecting it from images stuck in their head from the day before.
You will never see a sign reading, "Beware of Cat." A thief could be cracking your safe, and the cat will frolic in his shoelaces. Cats are territorial but in a different way. When I visit my sister, Fang sulks in the corner with a look that says, "Who let you into my palace, and why are you distracting the masseuses?"
Dogs need to be involved. They sleep with one eye open in case anything exciting happens, like movement. And every time you walk in, it's a brand new game of Fetch. In 1952 they launched a study to see how long a dog would fetch the same ball if we didn't at some point yell, "Enough!" Results are not in, as that original game is still in progress.
Cats and dogs have one thing in common: Both are costly as hell. Between food and shots and stain removal, it's like having a furry, four-legged furnace for your cash. You can buy a $30 toy for your cat, and he'll spend the evening playing with its wrapper.
A dog will eat the same toy.
Cats and dogs are unbearably cute ... as newborns. And that's the rub, isn't it? We purchase kittens and puppies but end up with cats and dogs. It's false advertising on behalf of Nature, who knows that charm may be the only hope for a creature that has just turned your sofa into an $800 scratch post.
Dogs need to be walked, which is fine if you're single and want to meet people. Of course, those people must rise above the fact that you're holding a bag of feces.
Puppies don't turn into Devil Cats, and that must be considered. Devil Cats come from the shelter, where they learn to urinate on your best suit. At home, they watch you from a dark corner, hatching evil plans. They may not, without opposable thumbs, be able to act on those plans, but they are thinking them.
Then there was that dog in The Omen.
Dogs need to be housetrained, which is to say yelled at, smacked, and bullied with nasty expressions. Sometimes it doesn't work out. I heard one man giving a eulogy in his own backyard: "And although we'll miss you, boy, perhaps now you understand what I meant by no peeing in the house..."
Cats will not be trained as a matter of principle. Some have learned to use a toilet, but only to prove their parity with humans.
To please its master, a dog would repaint the house every day for all eternity, but alas, they're not so gifted. Most dogs, in fact, spend the day with that expression you get when you walk into a room and forget why you're there.
In fairness, police dogs -- K9s -- are smarter than the average voter. I grow concerned for the narcotics dogs, though. Can you see them ten years down the line on skid row? "At first I just sniffed drugs out on the job, man, but then they started to call me..."
Smarter yet are Seeing Eye Dogs, which are full-service butlers. When you say "shake," they bring a parlor glass topped with whipped cream and cherry. We experimented with Seeing Eye Cats but found that they sometimes led the blind into busy intersections just for fun.
Dog spelled backward is "god." Cats have never been to space. I don't know. Maybe I'm overthinking it.
I want to thank the Dog Lovers and Cat Lovers who aided my research. I have listened more closely to your arguments than I would to, say, a presidential address. It was a grueling process, but having weighed the pros and cons, I have finally come to a decision.
I am getting a goldfish.