|My dog fawning over my mother on Christmas|
Throughout my life I have had many cats. I have had only had two dogs. One of them, Otis, died when I was still in preschool, and his name still carries the weight of legend. Saying Otis did things is like saying that Harriet Tubman did things. Except that Harriet Tubman never ate whole chicken carcasses. As far as I know.
The other dog is one that we have now. His name is Xavier. I have described him before as a black lab with dwarfism and ears like a donkey. He is also somewhat like a low-rider Ferengi. His primary activity is carefully watching doors to see whether anything menacing emerges from any of them. When he is not doing that, he pines. He has raised pining to an art form. Corgi mixes, apparently, can make specific sound effects that no other life form can make. If you can imagine a Scooby Doo who is both less intelligible and more prone to ennui, you will have a strong sense of what this sounds like.
We currently have one cat, Marmalade Lion. My husband does not especially care for this cat. He is really a very sweet cat, and I don't understand why Mike doesn't like him, since he has only such has minor flaws as one expects in all house pets. One is that he has a meow that sounds somewhat like the death scream of a tortured weasel. This is the one that bothers my husband the most, especially during periods of time when the cat has stayed in all night and demanded to be let out at 2 A.M. Another small failing is that he bites suddenly when being petted. But only occasionally. Also, he likes to "make biscuits" on people. He kneads us with his claws with great affection for upwards of ten minutes while contemplating settling on a lap, and, if petted during this time, he will yowl angrily and continue kneading with his sharp claws. Otherwise, though, he is a perfectly charming cat.
A year ago, my husband decided, without my knowledge or input, to train this cat to stop meowing. Every time he yowled, Mike would spray him with water. Which caused him to yowl again louder and Mike to spray again. Et cetera. From this, Mike learned a valuable lesson. Cats cannot be trained not to meow. Our cat, apparently, continued meowing until dripping wet, and the only result is now that he is terrified of my husband. Thus concluded Mike's science experiment on cat behavior.
There is a slight note of resentment between my husband and myself on the subject of cats. He claims to like them. I claim he likes theoretical cats but not actual cats, all of whom, in my experience, are certifiably crazy in exactly the way he explains causes him to dislike M. Lion. Cats, he says, that he picks or with whom he has lived, are not crazy, but are pleasant, and smarter than mine. And so on.
The night before last, my eighth grader had a sort of brief interruption to his normal composure after being told that we needed to look over his four year plan for high school and fill it in. During this unfortunate period of emotional distress, several items in his room were relocated from their normal locations in a sudden manner. Among them was a bar of extra dark chocolate that we had given him for Valentine's Day and which he had not eaten much of.
Our dog discovered this state of affairs only moments before I did, and when I arrived, he was eating parts of the golden wrapper. What followed was an internet search, a call to the veterinarian and a dose of hydrogen peroxide, which happily, was administered by my teenager, whose fault this all was. Then he got to stay outside in the snow with the dog to see if he threw up. It took the dog a while to throw up and, when he did, he looked at his puddle of vomit and thought to himself "Chocolate syrup!" and then Rowan had to get a bag and paper towel and clean it all up from the snow to prevent Xavier from re-ingesting it and starting the cycle all over again.
Say what you will about cats. They don't eat a bar of extra dark Valentine's chocolate with part of the wrapper AND THEN have to have vomiting forcibly induced AND THEN try to eat the vomited chocolate for a snack.
Cats do dark, horrible things. It is true. But they tend not to do mindlessly foul things. The foul things they do have the quality of calculation and staged protest. I am irked by animals that think of their own regurgitated offal as a dessert.
As fond as I am of my dog, I consider this episode to be a black mark against his character, at least inasmuch my as my cat yowling like a possessed demon in the wee hours of the morning is considered a deeply problematic trait. In the decades old war of cats vs. dogs, as captured by Rudyard Kipling in his classic tale, The Cat That Walked by Himself, I consider this another win for cats.
Although, probably, it just tells you more about teenagers as a species than anything else...