Dogs and Cats?

If dogs like you, they wag their tail and trot up and say hello. Shy dogs may only wag their tails. If dogs don’t like you, or your dog, or believe you are threatening them or those they protect, they growl or whine and give off other indications. If they’re “omega” dogs, they may retreat or cower. If they’re well-trained and they don’t like you, they tend to make it obvious that you are surviving only by the will of their mistress or master.

Friendly cats are similar, if more restrained, to friendly dogs. But cats that don’t like someone either vanish or are never seen… and in some cases conduct sneak attacks, often on personal items. Cats are also rather good at walking the tightrope, so to speak. We have a cat named after a queen in English history, and she makes a practice of walking along a two-inch wide balcony railing over a twenty-foot drop. I just wish I were that sure-footed, both physically and socially.

People can behave like “dogs” or “cats,” or even approximate other animals, such as the individual one woman calls, “Sir Hiss.” Unhappily, the people I have the most trouble with are those who outwardly behave like big friendly dogs, while planning ambushes and sneak attacks like cats. I’m especially wary of men who have wide expansive smiles with eyes that smile as well and who radiate warmth when they’re focused on someone. In more cases than not in my life, such individuals have been considerably less than perfectly trustworthy, but I have yet to find a dog showing such friendliness who attacked when someone wasn’t looking. Needless to say, this particular ability/mannerism turns up more than a few times in my books.

One politician I knew seemed to light up whenever a camera was focused in his direction, and his sense of cameras was uncanny. He never lost an election, either. Talk about adaptation. I haven’t the faintest idea if any other animal besides homo sapiens can do that, but he certainly excelled at it.

I’ve also encountered more than a few individuals of the sneaky slimy type usually called snakes, but that’s a problem because few snakes are actually slimy, and that description does a disservice to most snakes. In fact, most descriptions of people as one animal or another usually do a disservice to the animal whose supposedly unfavorable characteristics are being applied to the individual in question, because, in fact, human beings have the capability for greater deceptiveness, murder, and pure evil than any poor animal.

3 thoughts on “Dogs and Cats?”

  1. darcherd says:

    As Mark Twain famously observed, “If you take a starving dog off the street and feed it, it will not bite you. This is one of the principal differences between dogs and men.”

  2. gacebo says:

    In general I agree with your thesis, however, there is great variability in animal behavior.

    About 25 years ago I was visiting friends in Charleston SC, who had a large dog (I am a large dog fan and currently have a Great Pyrenees and Golden Retriever) it was friendly and we got along fine. I went out for a few hours and came back, I was cautious about coming into the fenced in yard, he came up to me shaking his tail, sniffed my hand, I petted him, and we played for a few minutes. One of his people opened the front door and still waging his tail and no growl he lunged at me. Fortunately, I was able to deliver a punch with my right fist and only received a purple indentation of all his teeth on my left bicep. Turns out he had done this before and a few more times after me and they got rid of him. Only time I have ever seen a dog attack without warning.

    I certainly like my dogs and cats more than a lot of people and their behavior is more honest.

  3. Alan Naylor says:

    David Eddings once had a character comment in his Belgariad series. Something to the effect of: snakes are simple creatures. They like to be left alone but when disturbed they bite whatever is bothering them and move on. They don’t hold grudges.

    You’re quite right that most analogies of people to animals are usually doing a disservice to the animal in question. Animals are capable of great self-sacrifice for others, and many exemplary traits.

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