Who rules, cats or dogs?


Burmese cat and Staffordshire Terrier

Published: Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 25, 2013 at 1:52 p.m.

While our recent U.S. Presidential election season reminded us of the passion that heats up political debates, politics still can't ignite as much fire as this age-old question:

Facts

FACTS EVEN PEOPLE DON'T KNOW

3 DOG FACTS
1. Dogs actually DO sweat. You've probably heard that dogs pant because they don't sweat. Partially true, but actually dogs do have sweat glands in between their paws.
2. More than just chocolate can hurt your dog. ... Even a little bit of the following can cause renal failure: grapes, raisins, chocolate, macadamia nuts, cooked onions or anything with caffeine. Also, apple and pear seeds contain small traces of arsenic, which can be deadly for dogs.
3. A dog's fingerprint is its nose. ... A dog's noseprint is as unique as a human's fingerprint, and can be used to accurately identify a dog.

3 CAT FACTS
1. A litter of kittens can have lots of daddies. ... One litter of kittens can be fathered by more than one cat.
2. Cats sway their tails as a sign of affection. ... If your cat is near you and its tail is quivering, this is the greatest expression of love your cat can give you.
3. The whiskers on a cat's face are used to help THEM navigate in restricted spaces or in darkness. ... This is where trimming stray hairs is not accepted.
Source: The Pet Collective

Who rules? Dogs or cats?

Oh, we've heard the arguments: Dog people tout their pet's loyalty and decry cats as haughty; while cat people roll their eyes at the neediness of the average canine and brag about the dignity and independence of their feline friends.

So we thought we'd throw a little fuel on the fire and turn this into a contest. We asked our readers for short essays to make the case for their beloveds. In a testament to the devotion to their cause, each essay was articulate, convincing and publication-worthy. That's why we've put them all online at Gainesvillemagazine.com, where you can peruse at your leisure.

Here we offer the two winning entries, judged so for the compelling case each made for its side.

Who rules — dogs or cats? We'll let you be the judge.

But perhaps we can all agree on one thing: If you're a pet owner, we know who doesn't rule in your household: You!

WHY CATS RULE

Because we're so much smarter (but, really, you knew that already).

During our 56 years of marriage, we have had both dogs and cats for pets. For some reason, our dogs all seemed to be mentally challenged. Our cat, Hazel, is among the gifted and talented.

Hazel was presented to us by our daughter and granddaughter just as we were preparing to become Florida snowbirds. She was a tiny ball of fur, with hazel eyes, that would easily fit into the palm of your hand. Today she is a gorgeous Maine coon cat with a thick fur coat, big green eyes and a sharp mind.

Hazel can anticipate what is going to happen through the senses of sight, sound and smell. From the opposite side of the house, she can hear a can opener, identify the smell of tuna and come running for a treat. As night approaches, she is aware of a TV show ending and runs to the front door. She knows it is time to pursue her favorite game of chasing little green tree frogs on the upper deck of our apartment house and watch them jump overboard. Unusual sounds send her scurrying under the bed for safety. After lunch, it is nap time. She leaps on the bed, waits for her treats, kneads the area close to my body and then settles down for a peaceful sleep.

She also knows how to send messages. A long, unblinking stare while perched on the edge of the coffee table means it is time for a treat. Meows vary according to special requests. Can a dog anticipate and send all of these signals? I don't think so!

Hazel is not only in control of the household, but her unusual talent for walking on a leash brings many compliments and accolades.

- Agnes Bierbaum

Gene and Agnes Bierbaum moved to Florida in 2005. Gene retired as a professor of communications at the State University of New York, College at Cortland, and Agnes as a speech therapist in the public schools. The couple have five children, 14 grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren. They now live The Village, where Gene is parliamentarian for the resident council and edits the newsletter, and Agnes sings with the Sweetnotes and volunteers at nursing homes.

WHY DOGS RULE

Because we know just how to handle our humans!

Dogs rule. I dare say, this is an irrefutable point. It is obvious that dogs are superior and provide a societal compass within the family structure. Cats, on the other hand, merely occupy space.

Some time ago, I had fallen on hard times and became a ward of Haile's Angels Pet Rescue, in other words, an orphan. While cats are content to simply lounge around like lobotomized fur bags, I decided while incarcerated to reinvent myself and began my self-marketing strategy. Daily, I kept up-to-date with the latest newspaper provided me in the bottom of my crate. Stop! I know what you're thinking: This is one smart dog. It's shamefully true.

One abysmal day, two pitiful-looking humanoids paid a visit to my cell. While they may not have been my first choice, I decided that practicing my routine would not do me any harm. I gave them my profile shot, placing my superior cranium that houses an extreme amount of brain matter, on full exhibition, and strutted within my compound with the confidence of General George Patton. The bulwark of their inhibition broke down like a pile of pick-up-sticks once they gazed into these hypnotic brown eyes and recognized the genius that lurked behind them. My future parents couldn't be held accountable for their moment of weakness.

I grabbed my Samsonite luggage and dashed off to my new residence while the felines were still in my rearview mirror sniffing their catnip. Immediately upon entering the domicile, I was slapped in the face like a hockey puck by the realization that major restructuring and streamlining would be necessary. I set up my base camp on the recliner in front of the big screen TV. I also ensured that a bed be placed in each corridor of the home so my meditation on the present day's issues would be stimulated.

Since my first moments in charge, I have amassed a number of accomplishments. First, I predicted with accuracy the presidential election. Oh yes, I did. I am the Rachael Ray of our kitchen, assisting my dad in preparing meals. I also took on the role of Dr. Phil, playing counselor to my dysfunctional Toy Aussie brother, Quigley, whom, I hate to admit, has some of the characteristics of a cat. I take my dad to Home Depot as we brainstorm our next project together, and I also take my parents for walks three times a day.

In closing, if cats were so smart, why is it you never see them enjoying a good bone? I rest my case.

- Toby, the Beagle/Dachshund, Tuttle (dictated to my mom & dad)

Johnny and Linda Tuttle moved to Gainesville from Tampa one-and-a-half years ago. Johnny retired from a career at Florida Progress and Linda from the Pinellas County school system. Linda now works for the Alachua County library district. They live with their 3-year-old beagle / dachshund mix, Toby, and Quigley, a 7-year old miniature Australian shepherd, both rescues.

Dogs Rule: Because they challenge us

By Elaine Beem Robinson

Which pet is best for humankind? The ancient cave drawings provide the answer--the dog. Human and dog have withstood the test of time. But why they have--that is the real question.

After all, cats are beautiful, entertaining, independent and ever so tidy. Dogs are slobs. Leave a cat alone in the house for three days to go on vacation, with adequate food, water, kitty litter, a good book to read and what happens? Nothing. The cat will barely notice that anyone is gone.

Leave a dog alone in a house for three days to go on vacation, and it's probably wise never to come back.

Books about cats are simple, too. There's a chapter on coat color, a paragraph on face shape, and a discussion on the origin of the breed. Otherwise, regarding size, personality, and care, the chapters are all the same: smaller than a breadbox, aloof, and smarter than you are.

Dogs, on the other hand, are as varied in size and individuality as the self-help books about how to deal with them. While novels and movies are devoted to their heroism, an alarming number of television shows are produced to help people cope with their destructiveness. I've often felt that a truly devious form of warfare would be a battalion of puppies. What could topple an empire more effectively from the inside than a beguiling army of tireless, chewing, digging, whining, un-housebroken puppies?

In other words, dogs challenge people to think. This is why I believe that societies that are cano-centric are more creative societies. After all, if they've been challenged by dogs for centuries, they have to be crafty.

Anyone who lives with dogs has a collection of horror stories to share about the mountains of havoc created from one handful of puppy: the leather shoe that served as dinner; the book with the final chapter shredded on the carpet; the 50th anniversary wedding cake with one side excised; the bean bag chair reduced to its summary parts all over the living room floor. Experiences such as these teach valuable life lessons that Mother's nagging never could accomplish. “Put away your clothes,” “Don't leave clutter lying around,” “Eat sensibly” and “Why would you ever want a bean bag chair?” mean nothing until a dog translates these admonitions into gritty reality.

However, there's an upside: My dogs have driven me to distraction and to tears, yet I've never given up on one and none has never given up on me. A cauldron of chaos and calamity forges a bond as iron and carbon form steel. A soft-eyed animal becomes a part of me. A little heart beats with my heart. If my mood turns gloomy, a fuzzy body with a wet nose appears at the right time to wriggle into my world with uncanny knowing and genuine compassion. That's why dogs and humans are in cave paintings together. We struggle, we care, we grow, we team, and we become bigger--maybe better--than our individual parts.

Dogs Rule: Because they're happy to see us

By Laura Lyne

Well, there's really not much doubt about it: Dogs rule. Yes, cats seem lots smarter. They seem to have lots more personality. They seem to be able to out think, out fox and generally out do a dog even with their eyes closed. They care about hygiene and practice it daily. They do NOT roll in each and every dead carcass they find. They do not eat horse manure. They certainly do not eat cat feces. They can turn up their noses and appear haughtier and more entitled than Napoleon.

All of this seems to make them a shoo-in for superiority, but dog lovers have a trump card: There is a fool-proof test that will separate the – well, the cats from the dogs – each and every time and prove that, in the end, dogs do rule.

Here's the test: Borrow a friend and his car. Open the trunk, and then take a cat, any cat, and put it in the trunk of the car. Carefully close the trunk. Then open the trunk of your car, put a dog – any dog – in it, and carefully close the trunk.

Ask your friend to drive around the block. You do the same. Five minutes at the most. Open the trunks of both cars. Which animal is happy to see you? Which one hisses violently and comes out of there like it has been shot out of a cannon?

I rest my case. Dogs rule.

Dogs Rule: Because she does!

By Dottie Mounts

We have a yellow lab named Misty….who with age, now RULES! We have had cats who did their own thing but did not tell us what to do. Misty has been our dog for twelve years now and actually we do go by her schedule which she makes on her own. As a puppy, she was very obedient and well trained to fit in with us and our lives. Now she is just like a cranky old lady and tries to keep us in line.

She has always carried my slippers to me in the morning but now and then she seems to tell me to get my own slippers! She has always brought in the morning paper to us but sometimes decides we should do it ourselves now. She does like to carry in the flashlight when we take her out at night, all these for treats, of course! I have kept her from getting up at 5:30 a.m. by making her wait until the clock strikes six. She did learn that just lately and is abiding by MY rule.

Now she has decided to keep us on her schedule and barks at us when it is time to eat, time to take her 4:00 walk, and when time to go to bed. She will bark for us to get a toy from her toy box so we will play with her. She does all this and barks for an expected treat. When 5:00 pm comes and she thinks it is time for “Happy Hour,” we hear a bark and immediately get started, she skips the cocktails but certainly enjoys the cheese and crackers or whatever tidbits we have. After that she wants me in the kitchen cooking supper, which she gets a few leftovers to enjoy when we finish eating.

When bedtime rolls around, she likes to go to bed early so will bark at us to get her bed and bring it into the house from the garage. We then need to get her a toy and a dog biscuit so she can call it a day! The problem is she wants us out of there and wants the noisy television off and lights out. Sometimes I am still working at my desk, and she continues to growl very softly telling me to hurry up!

Now as my husband and I age along with Misty, I know we look at her and are sad to see she is getting so old. We know as she looks at us, she is sad to see us looking so old also! So, we all continue to love and respect each other, but Bob and I know that “Misty Rules!”

Why Dogs Rule: A poetic answer
By Helene Johns The age old question-
Dog or cat?
This rhyming essay
Should settle that.

A dog will win that debate
It's so easy to see
The many reasons for canine
Superiority.

A dog is man's best friend
Everyone says that.
There's a reason why
It's not said about a cat.

A dog is loyal and faithful
And will protect your house.
The most a cat will do
Is kill you a mouse.

A cat has a whiny meow;
A dog, a commanding bark.
A cat's spooky eyes
Glow in the dark.

Another great reason why
A dog rocks,
Canines eschew the
Litter box.

A dog will wait at the door
For his person's return
A dog will sit and rollover
Things a cat just won't learn.

As if there's one more reason you need
Before you will concede
That canines rule.
Only dogs can handle the rigors of
Obedience school.

Dogs ride with police in cars marked K-9.
No self-respecting officer rides with a feline.
Because felines can't be trusted when they dip
Too much into the cat-nip.

Dogs come in all sizes.
All hail the awesome pup.
From a Great Dane giant,
To a tiny teacup.

Compare that to a feline.
It cannot boast of that.
Felines come in 2 sizes,
Either a kitten or a cat.

For all those reasons and even more
Paws trump claws every time.
But if you need one more reason,
I, a canine, penned this rhyme.

So maybe I'm biased
Thinking a dog is better than a cat.
But a canine did write this essay
No way a feline could do that.

If these reasons fail to convince you
Just look into my sad doggie eyes,
You know you can't resist that look
So please, I'm begging, award me this prize.

Dogs Rule: Because they take care of us!

By Anne Funkhouser

After being owned by 6 Shelties over my adult life, there is no doubt in my mind that dogs rule. Sophie, a rescue, came into our lives 2-1/2 years ago. As a rescue, she did bring a few issues with her. She doesn't like to hear loud voices. I seem to have the bad habit of speaking quite loudly when I get excited, upset, or angry. On those occasions, Sophie will come running with a frightened look on her sweet face. I think perhaps loud voices mean to her that she will lose her home, and she doesn't want to lose another one. So we reassure her that she is loved and this is her forever home. I'm even learning to control my loud voice more easily than before Sophie came to live with us.

So, when tax time rolled around, with tongue in cheek, I said, “Sophie, today is going to be a very difficult day. Bob and I are going to do our taxes. My voice may rise, but I won't be mad at you. If I get upset, I need for you to bring me a ball for play.” With head tilting from side to side, she was very attentively listening to what I told her. I never expected what would happen next. We had only been at our tax task for a few minutes before my frustration level was exceeded. Much to my surprise, Sophie arrived with a ball in her mouth for play. I stopped what I was doing and played a short game of toss and fetch. Sophie had fun and I calmed down enough to continue with my piece of the tax action.

As I input data in the computer, I lost some information by forgetting to save some of it. Sorting through all of the needed documents to recreate what was lost brought additional frustration to me as the day progressed. Each time my voice got loud in frustration, Sophie was there with another toy for some play. She never left my side except to retrieve a toy when she sensed that I needed to calm down.

Before the taxes were ready to submit, there was a floor full of toys surrounding my chair at the computer. “Sophie therapy” did work, I was able to calm down each time she brought a toy for some play. Each time my voice became loud, she'd run in with a toy, but she didn't seem to be as upset with a loud voice as she had been in the past. It seems that we both benefitted from my little pre-tax talk. Who would have thought that Sophie could truly understand all that I was telling her that morning.

As the taxes were finalized for sending, we thanked Sophie for all of her help and paid her with her special treats before she ran off to retrieve a toy for another game of tug, toss, or fetch.

How to Walk Your Cat on a leash

by Gene Bierbaum

To the amazement of our friends and neighbors, our cat Hazel routinely walks on a leash. Drivers will often stop their vehicles and exclaim that they have never before seen a cat on a leash. This is a constant surprise to us since the Village has a rule that all pets must be on a leash at all times. For those who have never tried walking a cat on a leash, here is the information that you need to get started.

1. If possible, start the training at a very young age. But, at any age, the first step is to train the cat to be an “inside cat.” The cat must learn that safety and security reside within the home, and her natural instinct must be to seek the refuge of safety within the home.

2. Once the “home base” has been firmly established, put the harness and leash on the cat and carry her just one or two steps outside your front door. If the home base has been clearly identified, the cat will quickly scamper to get inside the security of the home. Once this happens, the training is almost complete.

3. Again, carry the cat four or five steps outside your front door. Each time, she should move quickly to get inside the house. Gradually lengthen the distance required to get back inside the house. Eventually you should be able to carry the cat four or five blocks, then set her down and be prepared to move as she scrambles to get back home.

4. Be quick to pick up your cat if another animal approaches. Jumping dogs can pose a real threat. Hold the cat over your head, if necessary. Pay special attention to protecting the tail.

5. Always follow the same route, especially during the early stages of training. Cats like to follow a regular routine, and they will remember how to get home from a designated point.

Major advantage of this system of training: If your cat should ever get loose, she will have a good chance of finding her way home.

Major disadvantage: Your cat only walks toward home, and you end up walking twice as far as the cat!

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