Dogs, Cats, Other Animals, and People

Years ago, an author whose name I can’t recall wrote a story about a man who saw the essence of people as the animals they most resembled, only to discover than his fiancée resembled a very predatory feline… and he, figuratively, had feathers. Along the same line, one of my daughters has observed that while dogs are generally loyal, cats are opportunists. Having both cats and dogs, I’d agree with her observation… and to some degree to the idea put forth in the story whose title and author I cannot remember.

Others, obviously, must share those thoughts, or why would a general’s nickname be “mad dog” and why are some women termed “catty” and some men “mongrels” or “birdbrains” or “cold fish”? In fact, I found several internet sites that list scores of animal names purported to be those applied to acquaintances of the lister, which ranged from the relatively understandable, i.e., mule, jackrabbit, honey bee, bull, and squirrel, to some that, shall we say, were a little more exotic – snake, whistlepig, shadface… and a few unsuitable for print, at least in my view.

Of course, given that we share a certain amount of DNA with all mammals and lesser amount with virtually all living creatures, it’s not totally improbable that there are some vague resemblances… or that we think there are. Or that we’d like to impute unfavorable ones to certain individuals. I know one individual who is referred to as “Sir Hiss” – not favorably – by certain of his relations because his slinky superficial charm conceals a great amount of disguised venom.

This is a long-standing human tradition. In Troilus and Cressida Shakespeare compared one male character, simultaneously, to the lion, the bear, and the elephant, and in Othello, came up with the description of a supposedly faithless woman’s tears as crocodile tears. In The Comedy of Errors, Dromio is termed a snail and a slug.

Many, many years ago, when I was a teenager [yes, that long ago], there was a rock ‘n roll song that was the number one country single by the Everly Brothers, entitled “Bird Dog,” with the lines, among others, “Hey, bird dog, get away from my quail/ Hey, bird dog, you’re on the wrong trail…”

And, of course, in one of the earliest commentaries on male proclivities, in Homer’s Odyssey, the enchantress Circe turns most of Odysseus’s crew into swine after a banquet, but the wily Odysseus charms her and gets his crew back, but it takes him a year before he can break away from her enchantments and resume his voyage homeward [I wonder if he ever mentioned that to his wife, faithful Penelope].

Oh… as for the science fiction story, the young man found another fiancée, one who was a love bird like him, and they ended up very happy.

1 thought on “Dogs, Cats, Other Animals, and People”

  1. JakeB says:

    As long as no one compares me to a blobfish . . .

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