Our Darling Clementine

By: Rebecca Frager

Are you a dog person?  Or are you a cat person?  I have seen this question floating around for a long time, as if having one or the other determines what kind of personality you have.  I have always had a dog and a cat.  So, I don’t know what that says about my personality. 

I am definitely more drawn to my dog.  She is more interactive.  She engages with her humans on a deeper level than our cat does. 

My cat wants to be fed and watered.  She wants a clean litter box.  She wants a warm space to sleep.  She wants the occasional human touch. Occasional.  Human touch is not high on her list of priorities.  When we go away for a weekend, we can leave the cat food and water, and go.  That’s it.  Nothing more, nothing less.

My dog is a tad more demanding.  She wants food.  Her food, my food, my husband’s food, the cat’s food.  If she sees food, she wants it.  She wants to go outside to do her business.  She wants us to go with her. To praise her. To throw the Frisbee for her. To throw the ball for her. To throw the Frisbee for her again.  She wants to hear what a great dog she is.  When she is done playing, she wants to go inside for her treat and to hear, yet again, what a great dog she is.  She wants a place to sleep.  In every room. A rug in the kitchen.  A bed in the TV room.  A dog bed on the couch. A rug in my husband’s office. A crate full of blankets in our bedroom.  Our bed. She craves human touch.  All the time. If we don’t touch her enough, she touches us.  She will lay her paw on our knees.  She will push up against us with her backside.  She will lay her head in our laps.  She will climb up next to us, making sure we know she is there.  She watches TV with us – often annoying us with her barking every time she sees a dog or any other animal on the screen. She responds to our praises and our scoldings.

Our dog misses us when we are gone.  When I get home from work each day, it’s like a welcome home party for someone you haven’t seen in years.  My husband works from home and is with her all day, but if we are both gone, it’s me she seems to miss the most.  When we go away for the weekend, unlike the cat, we cannot leave the dog to fend for herself.  It is an extra trip to the vet for boosters and a checkup if needed, in addition to the cost of kenneling. 

I have conversations with my dog.  She answers back.  Her ears perk up. She cocks her head. Her eyes light up.  Her body language shows she’s listening to every word.  When I go up to my bed at night, she is waiting on our bed.  I play a game of hide and seek with her, and she tries to find me.  When she does, she attacks me with jumps and licks.  After our snuggle time, I tell her to get in her own bed and with downcast eyes, she willingly obeys. 

I am her favorite.  Even though I tend to be the disciplinarian, I also am the great spoiler.  I can’t pass the dog aisle without getting her a new toy or a pig’s ear to chew on.  My husband puts dry food in her bowl.  I cook up some chicken or put leftovers in the food processor for some homemade dog food.  I warm it up and mix it with her dry food.  My husband rolls his eyes and says, “She’s a DOG!”  

I have always heard that dogs think they are one of us.  But it is the other way around.  Dogs think we are one of them.  They don’t think they are human; they think we are dogs.   Either way you look at it, our dog is a part of our family. In our empty-nested home, she is our little girl, and we are her universe.  Our dog makes us laugh and hopefully, we give her the love and security she needs.  The cat is around somewhere.  The dog is around us.  

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