Let me start this by saying that I love Ole, H’s dog. I don’t want to give anyone the wrong idea. Ole has more personality than a lot of people I know. He’s mischievous, he’s wild and crazy, and he’s very loving. He’s the dog that will curl up next to you and lay his head in your lap if you’re sad. Or if he’s bored and feeling pathetic. Either way, really. But none of this information is what this particular entry of my blog is about.
For those of us who love cats[i], dogs are a different breed. Where cats only want attention some of the time, dogs want it constantly. Where cats are antisocial, moody, and apathetic, dogs are overly social, generally happy, and compassionate. You’ve never heard of anyone having a guide cat or a service cat, have you? Of course not – cats could care less if their owner is blind, or has a form of epilepsy. Just as long as they get fed, they don’t care a bit.
I’m not sure how many of you know me very well, but I can relate with cats. More often than not, I’m antisocial rather than social. I wouldn’t go so far as saying I’m moody[ii], and I’m definitely not apathetic, but I pretend to be. It draws less attention to myself, and I have to talk to less people. I’m sort of like April Ludgate-Dwyer, but quite so dark. Maybe more like Ron Swanson, without the mustache. Anyway. I can relate to cats. I love cats. I think they are funny. And I wish I had a tail I could twitch when I was annoyed.
I had always planned to get a cat, once I was in a pet-friendly apartment. I figured it was a pet that would suit me. I could still watch TV or read all night, but I’d have a companion to curl up next to me. You know? Cats – the lazy person’s perfect pet. It sounded like a sweet deal to me.
He told me on the day that I met him that he had a dog. He even said that his dog was an English Setter, but that meant nothing to me at the time. I had been on so many first dates at this point in time that I didn’t think anything of that. It was just another fact about him. Fact: he’s blond. Fact: he’s an engineer. Fact: he has a dog. Whatever. I never expected that he’d become my future, my love, my everything. I was pretty sure I’d end up alone, at this point in my life.[iii] So I thought nothing of it. We carried on. The first time I went to H’s apartment, Ole was vacationing at H’s parents’ house for the week, so there was no dog to interrupt our World Series viewing. I was starting to think that this was the perfect arrangement.
At the time that I met Ole, he was about a year and a half old – a full grown dog who still acted like a puppy. And holy cow, did I not know what to do with that. He couldn’t go two hours without needing to be taken outside, so we couldn’t even get through a movie without pausing it so H could relieve his dog. He would whine when he was bored, which also made it tough to get through a movie. He destroyed everything you’d leave out, if you didn’t keep a constant eye on him. And he hated hugs. He was the cutest, so all I ever wanted to do was hug him. After a head butt to the nose, I decided I better retire that for a while.[iv]
It was so frustrating. In my mind, Ole came first to H. He would cater to Ole. And it would irritate me more than just about anything I could think of, because Ole isn’t a person! He’s a dog! Blah blah blah. I never won that fight.
How did I eventually come to my senses? It all started with a sick day from work. I did something to my neck that led to a muscle spasm which made me unable to turn my head, so I opted to stay home. I had been dating H a while at this point, but had never been alone with Ole. After keeping Ole in his kennel all morning, I let him out in the afternoon. And he curled up next to me and goofed around. Without H there, he was calm. He was like a normal dog. After work, he was always so excited to see his dad that he freaked the freak out.
This led to me getting H’s keys from him at work on days where he had to work late and I didn’t. I could go to his apartment, let Ole outside, and then we could keep each other company until H got home. It was during these times that I learned how much Ole liked cheese, and goldfish crackers. He’d snatch them right out of the air. It’s fun.
Flash forward to September 2013 – H and I were planning on moving in together, both to save on rent and to be together, obviously. Was I ready to be a dog owner, instead of a dog babysitter? Are you ever completely ready for stuff like that? But I love H and by this time, Ole and I had become running buddies. So I said I was ready. I could be a dog owner.
And here we are! H has been gone for work in week-long increments, and I’ve been Ole’s caretaker. He doesn’t listen to me like he listens to H, but he’s pretty good. He loves to chase squirrels and rabbits and to bound through the snow. He’s a cutie. And I can tell that he knows I’m Mom, now. He follows me around if he’s not sure what I’m doing or where I’m going, and he gets super excited when I get home from work. I’m usually the only one who can contain him when he’s freaking out about where his dad disappeared to.[v] He’s my dog. I’m a dog owner.
But will I ever be a dog person over a cat person?
I’m not sure on that one. I like to think of it as an advantage – I’m still a cat person, but dogs don’t freak me out anymore. So I can approach both and get more love than before. I think I will always want a cat, even though I’ll never be able to have one (H is allergic). But a cat would never run with me. Cats don’t play fetch. Cats don’t lick your face when they feel bad about something they did.[vi] They’re completely different. And I love them both, in different ways. I still think cats are my spirit animals, but I’d be the kind of cat with a dog best friend.
Besides. Dog people like to talk to each other at the dog park. And I don’t really like talking to strangers, in general.
But I sure do love my Ole.
[i] Spoiler alert: That’s me. I love cats. I’m not even afraid to admit it.
[ii] H may have a different point of view on this one. Sometimes, he just throws his hands up and says “Wheeee!” as if I’m a roller coaster and he’s along for the ride.
[iii] Writing this now, it seems so silly that I could ever think I’d end up alone. Currently, as I write, H is curled up next to me, sleeping, and Ole is curled up at my feet, pretending to sleep until we are awake enough to play with him. And life is pretty good. So don’t worry, the story gets better.
[iv] In case you’re wondering how that story ended, he lets me hug him now. But I’m also “Mom” to him now, so he probably just tolerates everything annoying I do because he feels like he has to.
[v] Spoiler alert #2: His dad is usually outside. Ole has terrible separation anxiety. It’s comical and pathetic rolled into one.
[vi] Because they are apathetic and could care less if they knock anything over. Cats are mean in that way. And Ole is insightful enough to know that, if I’m crying or cursing, he’s done something wrong. And yes, he does take that opportunity to pull out the sad dog eyes and lick my face until I forgive him.