Most people know me as a dog person. This does not mean that I hate cats; it’s just that I find their aggressive non-commitment to me very disturbing. That and they always abuse my kindness. My aunt owns (or rather puts up with) a large Persian cat. In the hallway outside the guestroom there was a dresser, atop which was placed a dish for cat food, and every morning he would sit in front of it and meow mournfully. My heart ached for him, so I filled his dish, and he seemed pleased. The next morning he was sitting on the dresser again, so I filled his dish again, but he wouldn’t eat it. Not knowing what else to do, I petted him for a while, and he began to eat. Stupidly, I thought that might put an end to it. For the rest of my stay he expected me to pet him while he ate his kibble. I suppose he thought his duty to give me some employment.
My husband loves cats. Accordingly, his appreciation for dogs is unreservedly negative. He respects the callousness of cat but I can’t quite abide it. Dogs never withhold their love. Well, except for my parents pugapoo, who I suspect was raised with cats before we adopted her. She never wags her tail unless she is about to something. She hides in dark places and springs out of nowhere just to wrap her legs around your ankle and sink her teeth into your tender flesh. She treats my room as though it were her own private den; when we give her a treat, she runs off to my room but without even taking the treat, as if to say, “I’ll take it in my study.”
Obviously, not all dogs are sweet, adorable things. It is for this reason that I consider myself less of a dog person and more of a spaniel person. In 2008 I adopted one from a local shelter and she has proven to be one of the sweetest dogs I have ever known. I would even say she is the sweetest dog.
I decided to call her Spunky, after the dog in Rocko’s Modern Life, and she more than lives up to the name. The people at the shelter told me she was a very vocal dog and indeed she was when she was at the shelter but ever since we brought her home she has been surprisingly quiet. She’s very playful and very affectionate, loves to run around my parents’ large back yard and chasing toys.
She’s very friendly with other people but she tends to ignore most other dogs. When a friend and I took our dogs to a local park, Spunky hardly seemed to notice my friend’s golden retriever. This may have been partly due to a language barrier because my friend and her boyfriend use only German commands with their dog and Spunky uses English commands.
The one exception to Spunky’s standoffish attitude towards other dogs are spaniels. Whenever she sees another spaniel she never fails to take an interest. One of our neighbors once had a spaniel and frequently allowed it to lounge out on the front lawn. Spunky never missed an opportunity to see her little friend on our weekly perambulations. That fact that the other spaniel no longer appears to reside there (after all, we have seen it in many a moon) has not discouraged her from peering into the yard in hopes of seeing it again.
She also likes cats very much but cats don’t really like her. Once, while we were on a walk, she caught the scent of one. She sniffed around eagerly in search of it and found it sitting on the wall framing the yard we were passing. The wall was only about a foot tall, so she was almost face-to-face with it. The cat immediately batted her noise and ran off into the yard. Since then Spunky has had several opportunities to make contact with the various elusive felines that treat our back yard as though it were their own but has as yet had no success.
My husband does not share my love for Spaniels and openly mocks my dear Spunky. It’s not that his remarks are incorrect. She is very stupidly happy and will affectionately love anything that moves. This is why my husband and I have concluded that Spaniels will love anyone, no matter how good or loathsome they may be. If they couldn’t, how else could a man like Richard Nixon have a spaniel named Checkers! Still, while this might seem like a fault to some, it is a quality worthy of the highest praise to me. She is the perfect embodiment of unconditional love. Cat’s are a different matter. They regard their owners with lordly disdain and are only too eager to bite the hand that feeds it … and that’s if you’re lucky! They adore doling out bodily harm with malicious playfulness. It hardly matters whether you deserved it or not. In fact, I rather suspect that cat lovers have a masochistic streak in them. It certainly seems true about my husband’s relationship with his childhood cat. Even though it has long since passed on, it’s memory stills haunts his dreams.
When my husband and I have our own place, we plan to adopt a cat at some point, provided of course that my husband becomes the primary caregiver for it. I can put up with many things but cleaning a litter box is not one of them. Besides, I will likely be able to take my dear Spunky with me and she will offset much of the horror of cat ownership with her sweet, loving, affectionate, adorable self.