I do not have a furry face, nor do I constantly scratch for fleas, beg for treats, or wag my tail. Such traits are not what I mean by being a Dog Person. I mean that I am a person who really, really, really likes dogs. Not everyone knows this truth about me, because I have not owned a dog in over 25 years. But I contend that such a lapse in circumstances does not disqualify me from being a true Dog Person.
To add validity to my assertion, I actually conducted an internet search to find some authoritative testing that would label me a Dog Person. There are several articles and even a quiz on the difference between being a Dog Person and a Cat Person, but they do not share any true insights. I found nothing in the search that would categorically confirm my Dog Person status. They basically say people like dogs because they are friendly and loyal. To me, that is a given but does not make one a Dog Person. With no established criteria to cite, I still contend that I am indeed a Dog Person, even though I have not owned a dog lately and actually like cats as well.
Here are my reasons for claiming Dog Person status, in no special order:
Dogs have been a part of my life since I was a little girl. The first family dog who stole my heart was Toddles—she was smart, cute, cuddly, playful and loyal. What more could a kid ask for? She set the stage for a lifetime of loving dogs.
I scan the TV and movies for stories about dogs! As a kid, I religiously watched Lassie and Rin Tin Tin and cried over Old Yeller. I was not crazy about princess movies and stories, but I liked 101 Dalmatians, Lady and the Tramp, and eventually The Call of the Wild and White Fang. The habit of seeking ways to watch dogs in action continued over the years into adulthood. Some of my favorite TV shows–Mad about You and Frasier—featured great dogs as cast members. And I actually enjoyed such movies as Turner and Hooch, Hachi: A Dog’s Tale, My Dog Skip, The Truth about Cats and Dogs, even Marly and Me. Anything that features a dog is worth a look! [Well, not the stuff with Chihuahuas or non-cartoon movies that feature animals talking, but most everything else.]
My dog Murphy is the best dog ever, even though he has been dead for 25 years. I got him when he was a puppy, and he lived to be 16 years old. He was a Yellow Lab Mix and came with me everywhere—work, school, play, family visits, vacations. He was a good boy, and I still miss him. And I could argue his status as the best dog ever anytime. Just ask.
If a stray surfaces, I take him in—or at the very least check that he is not hurt and has some food and water. At times this has meant befriending neighborhood dogs that were mistreated or saving strange dogs that were being abused. It is impossible to not step in and help when dogs are in pain. This includes making regular donations to The Humane Society and ASPCA (American Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals).
I miss having a dog in my day-to-day life. I love murder mysteries and read a lot of them by a range of authors. But I especially enjoy the works of Susan Conant, Laurien Berenson, Cynthia Baxter, Lee Charles Kelly, and even Rita Mae Brown. These writers feature dogs prominently in the solving of crimes since the dogs typically live with their human counterparts and always help! These novels provide details of living with dogs that let me relive the fun of having a dog as part of day-to-day living. They offer a doggy fix, so to speak. Needing a doggy fix identifies you as a Dog Person.
Love me, love my dog. There is no way to build a relationship with someone who does not also love dogs, does not understand that dogs will be part of the family. Tolerating a dog on an occasional outing is not enough. True friends will make room for them on the couch, take them on outings, and understand your concern if they are hit or lost.
If I hear the tinkling of dog tags on a collar or the patter of claws across the parking lot, I stop what I am doing and look for the dog. If there is a chance to see a dog playing, to pet and scratch a dog behind its ears, to watch a dog cock his head as we talk, I take it! I cannot help it. If dogs are around, I am drawn to them like they are a magnet pulling me in.
I have lots of dog stories, and if you get me started, you just might hear them all. There’s the time I discovered that about 8 mostly big dogs could fit in my VW bug, the time when my dog raided the refrigerator over and over when no one else was home, or the time a dog did not quite clear my nephew’s head as he jumped over him—ouch! My dog had his own pet turtle for a few days, enjoyed his birthday parties, tried to play with wild turkeys and a rattlesnake once, and at rare times tried to act like a watch dog.
I have been fortunate to have lots of dogs in my life, even if they were not living in my home. They give me the love and affection dogs are so noted for, but in small doses when I visit them and their humans. Some of them were my dog’s friends, some not. Here are a few of the dogs I have known over the years. If you cannot count dogs as your friends, you cannot be a Dog Person. Here are some of my and my dog’s friends from over the years.
Dogs always get the benefit of the doubt. I hate irritating noises like dripping faucets, screeching car alarms, loudly ticking clocks, and I often fuss and fume if these noises go on too long. But if I hear a dog barking near or far, my first reaction is not to scream “Shut that dog up!” but to worry what the problem is for the dog: being hurt or mistreated, needs water, stuck outside, something. Similarly, if I hear a news story about a dog fight or dog attack, my first reaction usually sides with the dog. How was the dog provoked? How was the dog misunderstood or (mis)treated by its owners? As Cesar Milan on The Dog Whisperer suggests, most behavior problems are in many ways tracked back to bad owners doing stupid things. Those are not Milan’s words, but you get the idea.
Michael Vick should still be in jail—or at least have gotten a tougher penalty for his confession to his connection to and participation in dog fighting activities. All animal abusers should receive the harshest sentences possible. Not much is lower than abusing an animal.
See? I am certain these experiences and attitudes qualify me as a Dog Person. Of course, it is true that dogs are friendly and loyal, offer protection, are always happy to see you, and keep you active and playing throughout the week. As Janet Schnellman explains, “There’s just something about dogs that makes you feel good. You come home; they’re thrilled to see you. They’re good for the egos.” But appreciating such traits does not make one a Dog Person. Not appreciating those traits could suggest you are a Cat Person, but liking those traits is just logical. To be a true Dog Person, you need to be active in seeking out dogs and then loving, supporting, protecting and appreciating them—yours and others. I do all that.
Are you a Dog Person, and what qualifies you to wear that title? Have any good dog stories to share?
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Here are some of my favorite quotes that champion the merits and wonders of dogs:
A dog teaches a boy fidelity, perseverance, and to turn around three times before lying down. Robert Benchley
Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside a dog, it’s too dark to read. Groucho Marx
A door is what a dog is always on the wrong side of. Ogden Nash
Folks will know how large your soul is by the way you treat your dog! Charles F. Doran
There is no greater pleasure than having a dog. And that’s a scientific fact! Louis Sabin, commenting on a university study on the effect of owning a dog
The average dog is a nicer person than the average person. Andy Rooney
When a dog runs at you, whistle for him. Henry David Thoreau
If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. That is the principal difference between a dog and a man. Mark Twain
The great pleasure of the dog is that you may make a fool of yourself with him and not only will he not scold you, but he will make a fool of himself too. Samuel Butler
Happiness is a warm puppy. Charles M. Schulz
Money will buy a pretty good dog, but it won’t buy the wag of his tail. Josh Billings
You think dogs will not be in heaven? I tell you, they will be there long before any of us. Robert Louis Stevenson
Heaven goes by favor: if it went by merit, you would stay out and your dog would be in. Mark Twain
If there are no dogs in heaven, then when I die, I want to go where they went. Will Rogers
MURPHY: Rest in Peace 1974-1990
TOKI Rest in Peace 2001-2010
Photo by Jason Yong