The first thing you’ll notice when you walk into my apartment is that pets live there. Very quickly you’ll realize that one of those pets is definitely a dog — he’ll be barking his little brown head off as soon as you get in the door.
But upon closer inspection, you’ll see that there are no fewer than three cat trees, two huge litter boxes, four scratching posts, and a giant bag of cat food sitting on the kitchen floor. If you come and sit on my couch, you’ll have to push the kitty toys aside and embrace the cat hair covering the cushions. Within seconds of sitting, a small army of felines will pop out of nowhere and take over your lap. Maybe you’ll make a joke about me being a crazy cat lady. Don’t worry, it wouldn’t be the first time I’ve heard it, and no, it doesn’t offend me!
But I’ve got a confession to make: Even though I have three cats and just one (small) canine, I consider myself a dog person.
How is that possible? And what does it even mean to be a dog or a cat person?
Logically, the short answer would be: If you prefer dogs, you are a dog person. If you prefer cats, well, you get it. But I certainly didn’t end up with three cats because I prefer dogs. My cats, one big furry guy I got as a kitten from a rescue association, and two Sphynx cats from a responsible breeder, were all definitely wanted, and are definitely loved (and spoiled). I love my four pets equally, and I honestly don’t play favorites with the dog.
So why do I call myself a dog person?
I guess it’s because I’ve always loved dogs and always dreamed of having my own when I was a child. I grew up with dogs and not cats, and in my childhood fantasies, I saw myself living in a beautiful house in the middle of nature with a whole pack of dogs (all different breeds) to keep me company. I never dreamed about owning a cat. As a child, I thought cats were cute, but definitely not as interesting as dogs.
Fast forward to my university days. If any of the houses I shared with roommates over the course of those four years had allowed dogs, I would have adopted one. Some days, especially the stressful ones, it was all I could think about. But I was never allowed to have a dog, and so I spent a lot of time looking at cute photos of dogs on the Internet and reading book after book on dog psychology (when I should have been reading my textbooks).
Less than two years after graduating, I was living in France and married to a Frenchman, and the only thing on my mind was finally getting my very own dog. I knew my life wouldn’t be complete without a canine companion. Unfortunately, our first apartment didn’t allow dogs, but they didn’t seem to mind cats. I love animals, and was often alone as my husband worked long hours, so I adopted my first cat, Noé. I figured having a cat was better than having no pets at all, and I tried to push thoughts of owning a dog away.
A few months after getting Noé, we moved to a house with no animal restrictions. Before we had even finished unpacking the boxes, I was begging my husband to agree to let me have a dog. And while he said yes, I would have gotten a dog regardless. In the same way as some women long to be mothers, I longed to be a dog owner. My Dachshund/Miniature Pinscher mix, Pinch, came along a few weeks later, and officially confirmed my status as a dog person. I was living my dream.
The two Sphynx cats came along years later, and they are absolutely delightful. Sphynx cats have a lot of doglike qualities, which is I why I wanted one in the first place (also to be energetic playmates for Noé, so he could lose some weight).
I love all my pets like crazy, but it’s easy to see I have a preference for all things dog. There’s a Dachshund calendar hanging on the wall, a capybara and her puppies as my desktop background, and I’m wearing a T-shirt with a dog as I type this.
For me, being a dog person means that if I ever had to make a choice between owning just one cat or just one dog (and what a horrible, but highly unlikely, situation that would be), I’d choose a dog.
I like how hands-on dogs are; you can cuddle them, walk them, play fetch with them, and they are a lot easier to take on vacation than a cat. Cats are most comfortable and more engaging when on their home turf, whereas dogs love to go on adventures. Dogs thrive on attention (admittedly, though, so do my Sphynx cats), and they are the most loving and loyal companions you could ever have.
But why, then, do I only have one dog, you might be asking yourself? The truth is, I’d have a whole bunch of dogs if I had the space, time, and budget, but I don’t. And while Pinch is wonderful with me, he shows some aggression and anxiety around other dogs. As a result, the veterinarians and dog behavior specialists I’ve consulted say that it’s best he be the only dog at home. I need to get Pinch’s issues under control before I can even consider adding another dog to the mix.
Maybe I’ll just start calling myself a pet person. After all, I share my life with four pets, and can’t imagine not having any single one of them. If for whatever reason I couldn’t have another dog one day, I’d adopt a cat instead without hesitation. As a child I only dreamed about having a dog, but as an adult, I dream about a life surrounded by pets, no matter what kind they may be.
What does being a cat or dog person mean for you? Let us know in the comments!
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