Archive for Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Cat’s bad attitude beats dog-gone luck

November 5, 2008

I’ve been wondering if maybe I shouldn’t take back all the bad things I wrote about our cat.

They’re all true, of course — she’s spoiled and she often seems to have a temper and demeanor more befitting a rattlesnake than a domestic pussycat, but I guess I should still be thankful she only weighs eight pounds. And, especially, I should be grateful that she isn’t a dog.

I was just thinking this morning that several people I know have been seriously injured by their dogs. Not pit bulls or Dobermans or any of the breeds that serve as guard or attack dogs, just garden-variety dogs.

These dogs didn’t turn on their masters or anything like that — they were just romping around, exercising their essential dogness, and their masters had to suffer the consequences.

For several weeks now, we’ve noticed the absence of one of our number from the weekly meetings of the Shawnee Rotary Club. Come to find out, she went to let her dog out and got tangled up in the leash. The result? A broken leg and a torn rotator cuff.

A woman my wife worked with was out of commission for several months last year after she went out jogging with her dog in a park not far from her home. She went down and broke her leg in several places. Plus, all this happened in the dead of winter, and she fell down an embankment where it took a while before she could attract anyone’s attention.

Years ago, one of my aunts came to visit. She suffered a broken wrist when she tripped over our dog’s leash out in the yard.

I’ve always liked dogs, but I confess I’ve never had much luck with them, back into my childhood.

The first dog I ever had was named Tippy. She was a sweetheart, a shepherd of some sort, but she had a propensity for digging up the flowerbeds and wreaking other havoc in the neighborhood. My dad put a fence around the backyard, but that wouldn’t hold her. She could take two steps and sail over it like a gazelle. I came home from school one day and she was gone.

I remember we had another one later that was run over by a car. We buried her in the backyard.

Once we had a Maltese terrier. Maltese have a tendency to grow hair in their ears, which caused us no end of trouble and extensive trips to the vet. Finally, after spending hundreds of dollars, we had his ear problems all cured and had him home again. It was a delight. For once, he’d actually come when I called him. (Before, I don’t think he’d been able to hear me call him.) This lasted about a week — until he ran in front of a milk truck. Exit Duffy.

When my youngest was little we got a cocker spaniel. He was a cute little dog, but we had to get rid of him when he developed a propensity for nipping my daughter’s playmates at the least provocation, or maybe with no provocation at all.

The last dog we had was a Sheltie, a Shetland sheep dog. After she got run over and nearly killed, we nursed her back to health and gave her to some friends in the country.

My dogs were always outside dogs. That’s because I never in my life was able to housebreak a dog. I mentioned this problem once to my first wife’s father, who muttered under his breath that first you have to be smarter than the dog.

As I got into writing this piece it dawned on me why these people — the friends, my aunt — came away the losers from their encounters with dogs. The common thread is the leash, I think.

I find it hard to imagine what the result would be if I tried to put a leash on the cat. I might not be so lucky as to break my leg. I might strangle myself with it.

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