A heated discussion of the merits of canine vs feline finds some common grounds.
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"Keep that mangy flea-farm away from me," the lady snarled, backing hastily away from Kanga, my Aussie shepherd pup.
I was flabbergasted. An adorable puppy is a people-magnet; we're genetically programmed to respond to big-eyed, small, cute, and fuzzy. Most people, especially women, thought Kanga the most adorable creature on earth, and couldn't wait to pet her. What was wrong with this woman?
She didn't look deranged. In fact, she looked rather nice despite her grimace of distaste--a gamin, slim and petite, with big eyes in a heart-shaped face topped with halo of fluffy brown hair. How could such a sweet-looking lady not be melted by Kanga's cuteness?
"Sit." I tightened Kanga's leash. She sat and panted happily at the world. "This is Kanga. She has neither mange nor fleas, and I think you owe her an apology."
"Apologize to a mere mutt? The incredible arrogance of dog-owners continually astounds me."
"Mutt?" I snorted. "Mutt? This is a purebred Australian Shepherd, thank you very much, famous world-wide for their intelligence, cleverness, good nature, and beauty."
"All right. The incredible arrogance of pure-bred dog owners continually astounds me."
"What have you got against dogs, lady?"
"They bite. They are vicious pack predators. They kill birds and rabbits and squirrels. They attack small children."
Hmm. The light dawns.
"Were you attacked by a dog as a child?"
"Of course. Fifty-two stitches. It was the joy of my life when the foul beast was destroyed."
"I'm sorry to hear that, and I can see why a bad dog experience would affect you. Most dogs are good people. Kanga and her canine ilk serve mankind in so many ways. A dog can be a companion, a therapy pet, a service dog, a guard dog, a herd dog. A dog gives unconditional love and all they ask is regular food, consistent training, and affection."
"Dogs are indiscriminate, promiscuous, haphazard. They love anybody and everybody and will slobber over any warm body that pets them. I much prefer cats. If you earn a cat's affection, it is yours alone. You can rely on a cat to be faithful."
Hmm. Another hint of past hurt?
"Perhaps so, but they are also reserved and self-centered. And they claw the furniture. As they say, 'Dogs have owners, cats have staff.' Wouldn't you agree that on the whole, dogs offer greater service to mankind than cats?"
"I would not. The cat is a renowned mouse-catcher. Cats are equal if not superior to dogs in providing unconditional love and companionship, and they don't slobber all over or chew your shoes. A properly raised cat will claw her post and nowhere else. And by and large, cats take care of themselves. I don't have to bathe or brush my short-hair, or trim her claws."
"Well, you do have some points there. Still, dogs are the most renowned rat-catchers, and my last dog, a border collie named Dabbie, was an excellent mouser. Though I do have to concede the slobber. That's very much a dog thing. Are you allergic to dogs?"
"No, just distrustful. Your puppy is behaving very well, sitting there. How old is she?"
"She's 10 months, and responding well to training. How old's your cat?"
"Serena is three. Would you like to see a picture of her?" She took a photo-folder out of her purse.
"I would. Now that you know Kanga isn't going to bite you, may I come over to look?"
"Well... let me come and pet her so she gets to know me. She really is adorable. Here, look, this is Serena."
"Oooh, a Siamese! She's beautiful. You have a lot of photos - perhaps we could get some coffee and go sit on the bench over there to look at them? My treat."
"Well, all right. But the dog can't sit beside me. Serena would be jealous."