It's Karen's Turn column: How a cat person learned to love a dog
The following is an opinion column written by an Echo Press editorial staff member. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the Echo Press.
I never wanted a dog.
Dogs bark all the time. Poop in your yard. Jump on you. Sometimes they maul people. Sometimes they hump your leg, especially those little dogs, and that's just darn embarrassing. A photo of a dog humping your leg would immediately doom your chances of becoming CEO of any company or winning any sort of political office.
You can't leave a dog when you go out of town for a day or two.
They roll in disgusting substances.
They drink from toilets.
Did I mention the barking? The jumping?
I'm a cat person. I understand cats. I've had cats all my life and they've been good pets. Cats have one thing that makes them superior to all other creatures past and present that have ever roamed this planet — they purr. Oh my gosh, when you hold a rumbling bundle of fur and he's all bumping you with his head and adoring you with his eyes, you just come to the conclusion that you are holding the one thing God created to make human life worth living.
However. We live in the middle of nowhere and we have a 10-year-old. Playmates are not found in abundance like they are in town. And cats, at least our cat, Wilbur, don't especially enjoy rough-housing with elementary-age boys. We had read Old Yeller aloud and it seemed like a boy in the country needed a dog.
We found Willa at an animal shelter in Wadena. She was four months old. Long brown droopy ears. A spotted white coat. Patches of black and brown. She wasn't a purebred, which was fine. She was German shorthair and beagle, according to the shelter. We suspect a hound jumped the fence too somewhere back in her parentage.
We brought a toy hedgehog to the shelter and we got her a few chewy bones. She was so nervous during the 45-minute ride home that she chewed one bone completely to bits. Introducing her to Wilbur did not go well. He was spiteful as only an cat in a formerly one-pet household can be. A lot of hissing. Swatting. We found bloody scratches on her ears, on her head. Luckily, not her eyes.
She climbed up next to me on the couch one day. Took over my lap.
"You know I'm a cat person," I told her.
She sat there, not purring, but still warm and comfortable and ... sweet? Yes. There was a sweetness about her. Before long I was snapping photos of her and posting them on Facebook. While hauling groceries from my car to the house one day, I dropped a couple of mandarin oranges. She saw them rolling and probably figured they were balls, only to discover they were weird and tangy and squirted when you bit them. She didn't know what to do, so she flopped around on the ground, barking at them. I posted video. Dog lovers responded with laughing emojis.
Whenever one of her toys rolled under the couch, she would lie on the floor and peer at it, howling. Every time I'd stretch out on the floor, shining my phone flashlight under the couch and fishing out her toy with the wood stove scraper. I'm now her go-to human when her toys roll out of reach — which seems to happen more than it should.
And you know? She's not so bad for a dog. She does her business at the far edge of our yard where we don't have to smell it or step in it. She jumps on people — she's terrible about that — but it's mostly because she wants to stick her snout in your mouth.
And even though Willa's not soft and fluffy like a cat, and she can't purr, and I still think that cats are evidence of God's compassion toward humans — I laugh every time she leaps in the air with that big wide grin when I come home from work or from running an errand.
The other week I found myself planting a smooch on the side of her smooth head. She let me do it.
I think she liked it.
“It’s Our Turn” is a weekly column that rotates among members of the Echo Press editorial staff.