Everyone has a story. Everyone has something good happen … and everyone has something bad happen. But I’ve known people who have everything – and they’re always complaining. I had a friend who was dying, and she never complained. Not once. Instead, she seemed to cherish every moment she had left.
I’m not a saint. I complain. I judge. And then I catch myself and try not to complain or judge. It seems to me our reactions – what we dwell on – makes us either sad and angry or happy and looking forward to the next step in our lives. Through the years, my husband and I have had four dogs and one cat. Our dogs especially were spoiled. They loved eating, they loved us, they loved chasing balls, they loved naps. (Apologies to any men reading this, but doesn’t that sound like someone’s husband?)
If someone passed our yard, the dogs barked. Very territorial. (Like some men again, though all our dogs were females, and so is our cat.)
All our dogs were hunting dogs: two English springer spaniels, one English setter, and one beagle. They shared a lot of qualities: energetic, affectionate, loud, hating baths – every single one – and were often a source of laughter and joy.
Cats are different creatures. Our last two dogs passed a year and a half ago, a few months apart. At first, we were too sad to adopt another dog. We were grieving. Since we might move to another state next spring, we decided to wait until after we move before adopting again. We already had our cat, so we weren’t without a fur baby.
Belle is our first cat, and she has a lot of typical cat behaviors. She sometimes will come when we call her but only when she wants to come. I think she’s showing us that she’s the boss, not us. And she gets bored easily. Almost up to the end of their lives, our dogs were eager to chase a ball. That never got old. Not so for our cat. Cat toys lose their entertainment value quickly for her.
Still, she can be very loving (when she wants). She does that kneading/massaging thing on my thigh. And she purrs. Her purrs make me happy. Other times, she pushes the top of her head into my palm, letting me know that she wants me to pet her. Because she’s so picky, if she shows the smallest sign that she wants some loving from me, I feel privileged and I love her more for it.
People are more like cats that way, though if my quest is for happiness, I should want to be a dog. Wanting to play. Wanting to run and cuddle and lick and sniff. Wanting total happiness, no matter how dopey I look. Yet a part of me still wants to be a cool and sometimes standoffish (but perfectly groomed) cat. On the other hand, I know the dogs are happier.
I guess this indecision shows my humanity. I want it all, and we humans complicate everything.
What about you? What animal would you prefer to be?