When everyone you know is a 'dog person'

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My family and friends divide neatly into the dog-mad and the dog-skeptical. I have always been very much in the latter camp, considering hounds rather like permanently unruly children – they’re well-meaning and friendly, but they simply can’t control themselves. 

They jump all over me, they run around indoors and frequently knock things over, and they drool everywhere. Especially, it seems, on my pants.

At mealtimes dogs try to scab food from the table, trying to catch your eye as if to say “brother, can you spare a rasher of bacon?”, and when I sit down in a comfy chair afterwards, they come and jump on me, and/or drool on my leg some more.

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They do it from love, I realise, but their love sometimes seems indiscriminate and overbearing. Sometimes when you love someone, you need to give them a bit of space. Dogs don’t really do space.

I’ve always felt that the best place for exuberant dogs was outside, where you can play with them when you feel like it, and not the other way around.

Whereas cats, in my opinion, are magnificent just about all of the time. Sure, you have to work to win a cat over in the first place. Nothing truly worthwhile in this life comes easily.

But when you’re friendly with a cat, it’ll fit neatly on your lap, and purr endearingly. In the depths of winter, cats will snuggle up next to your feet, like a self-powered hot water bottle. Or, they might not. A cat is like a flatmate – although admittedly one you have to feed. Sometimes they want to hang out, and sometimes they do their own thing.

Sure, sometimes “their own thing” involves dragging dead birds and rodents into your living room, but we all receive presents we don’t like now and then – the best thing to do is just re-gift them.

And what’s more, unlike most flatmates, cats are fastidiously clean.

Receiving the affection of a cat is precious. Whereas dogs are always “on”, so to speak. When you get home, they’ll flip out every time – which is heartwarming on one level, but also seems a little undiscriminating. 

While I am admittedly awesome, dogs constantly behave like 13-year-olds in the presence of One Direction. It’s a good thing they can’t operate cameras, because they’d constantly be letting off flashes in our faces and asking us for just one photo, like members of the pupperazzi.

(Sorry about that pun, but it’s the kind of wordplay dog fans love. Which is why every second pet shop is called something like Under One Woof or Paws For Thought.)

What’s more, it’s become clear in recent years that I’m allergic to the majority of dogs. They make my eyes itch, and sometimes trigger my asthma. Even my body’s involuntary responses, it seems, aren’t so big on canines.

All of these sensible reservations about dogs matter not a jot to some people I know, who are entirely happy to have dogs underfoot, and the more the merrier. They love taking them wherever they go, and they seem to view the obligation to walk them at least once a day as a delightful chance to spend quality time in the fresh air rather than an inconvenient burden.

But in recent weeks I've found myself softening. Having spent a bit of time in the company of a small cross-breed-but-mostly-Australian terrier, I've discovered that certain dogs come with considerable upside. Having somebody following you around and gazing adoringly at you isn't exactly the worst thing. Going for walks can be a good way to stretch your legs on a lovely sunny day. And if your dog is small enough, it can curl up on your lap too, just like a cat - only they're always up for it. 

Best of all, it turns out that some dogs are hypoallergenic. Hound-elluia!

(Sorry, but we dog fans love our puns.)

The pooch in question is a rescue dog, and I've discovered recently that supply generally outstrips demand. So if you're thinking of adding a little drool factory to your household, do check out your local shelter.

Meeting a rescue dog has made me realise that while I haven't always been a huge dog fan, a lot of people are genuinely cruel to them, which seems especially horrible when dogs are so unquestioningly affectionate. Such people deserve to be reincarnated into chew toys.

I'm not an unqualified dog convert - given a free choice, I'd still go for a cat, as much because I doubt my own ability to offer sufficient time and energy. They're lower maintenance - never needing walks has its advantages, and if you're busy, you won't feel as guilty.

But I have begun to understand how the other half live. So much so that I've even begun to offer scraps of bacon from the table. And I love bacon.

In the end, dogs offer boundless affection and companionship. And why on earth wouldn't you be up for that?

Oh dear, I think they've won me over. 

 

 

64 comments

  • fantastic article...totally agree!!!

    Commenter
    Jeremy
    Location
    Sydney
    Date and time
    September 06, 2013, 9:12AM
    • "They jump all over me, they run around indoors and frequently knock things over, and they drool everywhere. Especially, it seems, on my pants." You don't know much about keeping doggies do you Mr Knight?

      Apart from the drooling all the other things you mention can be manged if you have effective control over your dog(s). The jumping on you thing is a need to get as near to the face as possible. Some say its a hang over from when they lick their mothers mouths to encourage regurgitation of food others say its simply the dog trying to be affectionate. This is easily controlled by pushing the dog away and saying "No!" Making the dog sit before you pat it works well too. My two dogs are still young and full of energy. They do run around the house wrestling but they rarely knock things over. They have knocked a glass or cup of coffee over on the coffee table on occasion but never anything else. They immediately stop or go outside when I assert "Stop! Now go to bed!" or "Out the back boys!" If anything they have destroyed more things by chewing rather than knocking them over. One of my dogs chewed through 14 pairs of shoes when he was left home alone from 0600 until 1700 one day. Yes, more fool me for leaving them where he could get them. I have one dog who drools and snores (loudly). There isn't much you can do about the drooling other than having a hand towel at the ready to wipe it up. As for the snoring? Well I just kick him out of the bedroom if he wakes me up.

      Commenter
      Think Again
      Date and time
      September 06, 2013, 9:27AM
      • You can always opt for a breed that doesn't drool. I can't stand drool. My whippets are pretty drool free, they also like to curl up in your lap though they are definitely not small enough to fit there. You just end up with pointy legs sticking out in all directions. Bless em.

        Commenter
        Pecan
        Location
        Sydney
        Date and time
        September 06, 2013, 2:07PM
      • Pecan, your rats on sticks can't compare with a 25kg Staffie when it comes to lap sitting.You KNOW you've a real dog when that happens.

        Commenter
        Fred Bloggs
        Location
        Castlemaine
        Date and time
        September 07, 2013, 9:16AM
    • Love it! Dogs will win everyone over eventually. My grandmother has had a lifelong dislike of dogs. Then my parents got my brother and I a kelpie. We knew life had changed when my dad and grandfather were concreting round the side of the house, the dog walked through the wet concrete, dad and grandpa yell at her and Nan races out and starts yelling at them to leave the "poor little dog alone, she doesn't understand" while stroking the dog's head. Pa who liked the kelpie but has a special hatred of small white fluffy dogs often feeds my parents current dog - a maltese bichon - scraps from his plate - including his much cherished and salivated over pieces of pork crackling. Both the kelpie and the maltese bichon were/are rescue dogs - the kelpie wasn't actually abused though, the little maltese was but you'd never know it these days - spoilt affectionate and happy little thing he is.

      Commenter
      SKA
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      September 06, 2013, 9:31AM
      • @SKA
        Kelpies are great and what a funny story. Some advice however. Don't feed a dog cooked bones as the sharp broken pieces can puncture their guts with fatal consequences. Additionally, fat and especially pork/bacon can give them pancreatitis. My dog Nelson is being treated for it at the moment after slurping into the baking tray. My fault.

        Commenter
        Taipan
        Location
        Invergowrie
        Date and time
        September 06, 2013, 7:51PM
    • Cats are "lower maintenance - never needing walks has its advantages, and if you're busy, you won't feel as guilty."

      And after some training (of the human not the dog) the dog won't "try to scab food from the table,...catch your eye as if to say “brother, can you spare a rasher of bacon?”, ...jump on me, and/or drool on my leg some more."

      so, theres your answer, "Nothing truly worthwhile in this life comes easily."

      Dogs FTMFW.

      Commenter
      jaymo
      Location
      sydney
      Date and time
      September 06, 2013, 9:44AM
      • @Jaymo.
        Yeah cats are OK but in a very different way to dogs. Here in the bush dogs sometimes kill sheep etc. but the average moggy is a serial killer of wildlife when you let it out at night. Feral cats are amazing killers and much smarter than the feral fox. But that is ultimately our fault for not desexing them in the first place.
        One good thing about cats is that they're more fun to kick. Sorry, just joking...

        Commenter
        Taipan
        Location
        Invergowrie
        Date and time
        September 06, 2013, 7:28PM
    • Long live cats!!!!!

      Especially Nyan Cat!!! meow mew mew meow meow mew mew meow meow mew mew meow meow mew mew meow meow mew mew meow meow mew mew meow meow mew mew meow meow mew mew meow meow mew mew meow meow mew mew meow meow mew mew meow

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QH2-TGUlwu4

      Commenter
      Adrian
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      September 06, 2013, 9:54AM
      • The reason cats seem clean is because they defecate on someone else's property ... like in my car park, which has become the 'official' public toilet for everyones free roaming cat.

        I might start knocking on my neighbours doors and ask when they'll be picking up their cat's crap ... or perhaps I'll return it to them in their letterbox.

        Commenter
        Woof ...
        Date and time
        September 06, 2013, 10:04AM

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