Watching people at the park is educational at times. But even more telling is watching people with dogs and/or cats in any environment.
As a dog lover, I have had many dogs in my life, both large and small. These days, our family has two fat, lazy cats. It's an interesting contrast as well.
Dogs are usually loyal, loving and playful. Cats are typically aloof, regal and slightly more demanding when it comes to food and water.
But even those descriptions are subjective as any cat lover will explain emphatically.
I have had the best of dogs (thanks to my parents), the best trained of dogs (thanks to my elder daughter) and a Chihuahua that acted a bit like a dictator on steroids — thanks to Pancho for leaving my toes intact.
The best of dogs was a greyhound mongrel named Tex. He was supremely athletic and ran circles around all of the neighborhood kids in Michigan. The 6-foot, chain-linked, metal fence could not hold him when he decided to take a day trip.
He sailed over the fence with one bound and would usually return within 36 hours with dirt on his white fur and a dead animal in his mouth. Tex didn't dig holes in the ground by his fence. He simply jumped over the fence again and curled up for a nap.
For all of his strength and speed, Texas very gentle around young children. However he may be the real reason why postal delivery people still have his picture posted on their Most Wanted wall.
Pancho, the chihuahua, weighed a scant three pounds. Even living in snow-covered Michigan didn't calm his nerves. He easily qualified as the next of kin to any mass murderer in history,
Pancho, to be polite, was a short male determined to overachieve and rule the world. He began growling and biting toes at a young age.
When he was two years old, the under-sized Rambo made two enormous leaps to reach the dinner table and grabbed my steak dinner. Pancho then ran off with a steak that weighed nearly half his body weight. From then on, Pancho only increased his dangerous ways.
While the canines are hilarious to watch, many people treat their dogs and cats as if they are human children.
It's difficult to give a dog or cat convincing human characteristics. However we humans often prefer trying to win a cat's love and affection — good luck — over the more complex challenges of human interaction.
I know some great people who have no children, but their cat or dog has all the privileges of a spoiled child. Special treats, special sweaters, gourmet food and posh appointments at the doggie/kitty day spa (aka veterinarian).
Some will tell you that every animal deserves to be treated like royalty instead of left under a bridge to fight with other animals.
The same line of thinking says spay/neuter all animals to minimize overpopulation.
While I am an animal lover, I see animals for what they are: animals, not humans. Certainly taking care of an animal is a legitimate concern. But the level of spoiling that dogs, cats see today is amazing.
It's too much for a healthy family to endure.
Those who enable their pet to run their lives need to look closely at why their home is partially run by a 4-legged animal with a limited vocabulary. By “run,” I mean the animal wakes you up at 4 or 5 a.m. on Sunday because it’s the time they know your predictable schedule — or worse, because they are hungry and their patience is running low with the human species.
3FORADIME ADVICE: Train your animals at a young age to listen and obey you. Discipline on your part is what makes a pet’s best qualities shine. If you are inconsistent with children or pets, they will take advantage of that. And some, given a chance, will become the dog or cat in charge in a home you provide. Don’t let that happen with offspring, nor domesticated pets.