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Thursday, January 18, 2018

Finding humor in the challenges and benefits of pet ownership

Guest Column By Elizabeth Kaiser

Years ago a staff writer for my hometown newspaper wrote a column comparing the challenges and benefits of pet ownership. Today, while I could not quote much of that writer’s column the comical concept has stuck with me after all these years.

I have had pets all my life.  While my family always had a dog around I considered myself a cat person and had resigned myself to becoming the crazy cat lady. It wasn’t until I agreed to “inherit” our family dogs Tucker and Lucy that my opinions about what a dog owner was began to change.  So here it is: my take on Cats vs. Dogs. I will attempt to relate five personal  experiences with each fur ball family rating them on a scale of 1 to 3 with 3 being “Oh heck no!”, 1 being “Awesomesauce!” and 2 being somewhere in between.

1. Going for a walk.  

Cats: I had a gray cat, Momma Kitty, who was happy to take an afternoon walk with me. I would walk next to a vacant field and then down a long empty road and back. She was happy to make the stroll with me occasionally chasing after grasshoppers or butterflies.  Score: 1.

Dogs: My big mutt Lucy was happy to take an afternoon walk with me. Because the same aforementioned field was vacant I would often take the leash off Lucy and let her stroll at her own leisure. On one particular occasion Lucy went charging over to a cropping of blackberries. The resulting smell brought tears to my eyes and was the perfume only a skunk would love.  After about a week of not breathing we went for a walk again.  Rinse and repeat...Score: 3

2. The Gifts. 

Cats: One summer I worked a graveyard shift and would arrive home after the night shift around dawn.  I would recline on our backyard patio until the sun rose and then I would proceed to hang out the laundry before retiring for my morning nap.  Often barefoot I would carry the laundry basket to the clothesline.  This ritual came to a quick and not-so-quiet end. Our prolific Siamese hunter, Coco, had been at hard work the night before. I discovered, or rather my bare feet had discovered a minefield of headless snake/mouse carcasses.  I learned the ability to fly and just how high my voice could reach.  I also learned that my dad’s work boots and my mother’s spaghetti tongs were necessary when retrieving the strewn wet laundry from the headless carcass backyard minefield.  Score: 3

Dogs: Our family Sheltie Mac, or Macaroni for short, came home one frigid early spring with two near-frozen baby bunnies in his mouth.  He had discovered them on one of his morning romps in our backyard “badlands” and brought them home ALIVE.  My mother warmed them up and my sister nursed them back to health until they were healthy bouncing baby rabbits.  Score: 1

3. Going for a ride.

Cats: It isn’t often that I would take our cat(s) for a ride but sometimes there is that necessary trip *whispers* to the vet.  We had a calico cat named Pretty Boy Floyd, Floyders for short, who will forever be remembered for her gaseous card rides.  She would get so worked up, we would have to roll down the car windows in an effort to gain some relief from the meow mix scented cat farts ALL THE WAY. Score 2

Dogs: My dog Tucker had an aversion to UPS delivery persons and to bicycles.  Who knows, maybe a UPS driver on a bicycle had offended him once. 

We used to vacation in the Alvord Desert in Southeast Oregon.  Most times our troop would be the only souls there and so I was comfortable with bringing the dogs, Tucker and Lucy, along since they could roam around the camp leashless and get some good exercise.  One morning while camping we decided to take a ride a few miles down the road to the nearby hot springs.  Now normally I do not condone allowing dogs to ride unharnessed in the bed of a pickup truck but in this case, where the rocky road required a traveler to drive slowly and because we were alone in this wilderness I thought “It should be ok.” Wanna go for a ride? We loaded Tucker and Lucy up into the bed of the 1960 something baby blue Ford truck and began our 2-3 mile ride. As we got about half-way there, much to my surprise, a car approached us from the other direction and believe it or not, they had bikes racked to the top of their SUV.  Facepalm!  Tucker went wild and jumped from the bed of the truck and took the grandest wipeout.  Needless to say the vacation was cut short and I discovered where the nearest veterinarian was located.  Luckily Tucker was only bruised up and baby aspirin was prescribed.  Score: 3

4. Weapons of Destruction

Cats: I had a cat Ricochet who had the odd habit of scratching a corner of the wall in my small apartment.  The habit had become so destructive that the wallpaper was shredded. I bought her a scratching post and some catnip and after learning how to hang wallpaper my problem was solved. Score: 2

Dogs: My friend had a lab mix who had some nervous tendencies.  This lab was particularly frightened by thunderstorms.  After an impressive daytime summer thunderstorm my friend returned home from work to not only find her couch cushions chewed up and spread about her living room but that the pooch had EATEN the skirting off the couch.  A vet visit later, resulting in surgery, and a new couch, she learned what kenneling was. Score: 3

5. Horkness.

Let’s just say that on this point cats and dogs are tied.  Although I would say that when a dog horks it is a slightly worse level of hork hell. Score 3 for both.

So let’s tally the scores. Cats come in at 11 points.  Dogs score at 13. Based on my very scientific method of comparison it seems that cats win when it comes to comparing America’s most common household pets.  It seems obvious what the choice should be when you are considering which of the pets should be the favored. But this crazy cat lady is now reformed. With all their blunders, slobbers, belches and bad breath, I have to admit I love being greeted by happy, wagging tails, cuddles on the couch and fighting for space in the bed on cold nights. While some may still consider me crazy, I consider myself the crazy DOG lady. 

Do you have pet stories of your own? Share them at rangerreview.com or on our Glendive Ranger-Review facebook page.

Elizabeth Kaiser works in the composition department at the Glendive Ranger-Review. She can be reached at rrcomp@rangerreview.com.

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