How I Gave Up Cats And Became A Dog Person
When I was growing up, I thought dogs were gross and smelly and awful. They seemed dumb — only a dumb creature could be so happy to see a human, right? Cats, on the other hand, were smart and pretty and condescending. They knew they were more important than people, and they reveled in their superiority, grinning evilly as we human servants scooped their poop out of stinky litter boxes.
I have hand-fed cats who were too sick to eat on their own. I have tucked pills into tiny savory snack pockets in an elaborate ruse to fool cats into thinking they were getting a treat. I have given insulin shots to cats. I have looked deep into a terminally ill cat’s eyes as it was put to sleep, just so it wouldn’t feel alone or scared.
But all that is behind me now. For now, I am no longer a cat person. I have given up the feline way of life for another lifestyle entirely — one replete with drool and snot and barf and puke and sometimes, gloriously, even period blood.
I am a dog person.
And like all converts, I am a zealous spirit.
It started because I was moving in with a fellow who was allergic to cats. I referred to it as his “tragic disability” and figured that, like Achilles, every hero has a fatal flaw. I decorated my home office with photographs of cats and mourned the fact that I might never again get to sleep in bed beside a warm, furry kitten. We all make sacrifices in life and love, and this was mine.
I work from home, and I get a bit lonely sometimes. Someone — perhaps it was him, perhaps it was someone else — suggested I might get a dog.
I wrinkled up my nose in disgust.
“Ew,” I said. “I mean they’re cute, but don’t they smell weird?”
Friends (and my boyfriend) began sending me cute puppy movies. Puppy videos. Puppy livestreams. As word spread, people went out of their way to introduce me to their dogs and to regale me with tales of the sweet, wondrous love that can only occur between a lady and her puppy.
I remained unmoved.
Until, that is, my boyfriend suggested we go look at shelter dogs.
I was on deadline for a project, and it was Valentine’s Day. He suggested that if we went to the shelter and I saw a dog I liked — a sweet, beautiful, precious animal that needed love and companionship — well, we might consider putting in an adoption application. I countered that I had work to do. He countered that I had been procrastinating for months, and maybe this would somehow get my brain jogging along. It would be a nice afternoon excursion, and the shelter people would probably let me hold the kitties, to boot.
I grew excited at the prospect of holding a kitty.
15 minutes later, we walked into the local animal control facility. I took one look at the dogs in their cages and I lost my freaking mind.
“Babies!” I said aloud, apropros of nothing. “They are just babies!”
“Actually, that’s an elderly adult male pit bull,” said a nearby animal control officer.
“HE IS A PRECIOUS BABY!” I said, staring deep into the pit bull’s liquid brown eyes.
He wasn’t the only precious baby there. Every single dog looked at me with its mournful (or hopeful) gaze, and I grew more and more upset — and excited, all at once. We held a few dogs, and I loved each and every one of them, but there were good reasons not to bring them home — this one was aggressive with kids, for example, or that one couldn’t be around other dogs (we live in a dog-friendly building full of doggies, and I figured we ought to get one that could stand seeing other animals with relative frequency).
Finally, we left the animal control place and went to the Humane Society. And that is where I walked in and immediately saw this munchkin.
She was small and weird and affectionate and fond of treats. I also am all of those things. She had been abandoned in the high desert when she was only a month old and was picked up by animal control there. The Humane Society had rescued her from a high-kill shelter (seemingly everyone in California who abandons dogs decides to do so in the high desert.)
And pretty soon, just like that, she was ours.
Her first day home was a wreck. I decided to leave her shut up in our big bathroom for a few hours while I went out and bought her lots of food and toys. When I came back, she had thrown up, peed, pooped, and GOTTEN HER DOGGIE PERIOD — and then played in it. All of it.
And as she looked up at me, covered in her own vomit and poop and pee and blood, I thought to myself, “I have never loved anything as much as I love this disgusting orphaned creature right in this moment.”
We’ve been in love ever since.
Oh, and P.S.? Her name is Morley Safer, because she looks like him. They are both amazing.