Friday, March 21, 2014

Tell Me Why We Have Dogs Again?

Finally the snow has melted enough for us to take a hike on the trail in the woods behind our house. We have over three acres and our property backs onto a park, leaving us lots a privacy and a wonderful place to walk our dogs, Chardonnay and Coraline "Cory". Jay and I love to walk in the woods right after a snow fall, but this winter the snow had gotten so deep, traveling where it wasn’t shoveled was difficult for the past month or two. Having warmed up to a relatively balmy 35 degrees, it was time to take the dogs and ourselves out for some overdue exercise. 
The trail is a big circle, about 2 miles total, and isolated enough that the dogs enjoy running off leash, tracking down scents, then checking back with us every few minutes. Chardonnay is 13-year-old Golden Retriever. Coraline is a 3-year-old Shar-pei mix, a smoke-colored mutt with the speed of greyhound. Although Chardonnay is on medication for her knee and has slowed down considerably over the past couple of years, she still loves to run. 
About half-way around, I noticed that even with the cold temperatures, there was standing water. Big problem when you have a Golden who prefers cooling off in stinky black mud.  I was just about to recommend that we call the dogs back so Chardonnay could be led past the temptation of water when we heard Cory barking excitedly. Oh crap. Someone else is walking back here, I thought. The barking became high-pitched and more frantic; Jay started jogging ahead toward the sound. 
Chardonnay the mud puppy
“A skunk!” he yelled. Well, you know what happened next. The theory is that skunks spray to defend themselves from predators. Too bad it didn’t deter Cory the skunk killer. She broke the poor skunk’s neck, killing it immediately. Chardonnay was close enough to take a good hit. Having been through this once before, I stayed away from the crime scene and let my husband try to get the dogs away from the dead skunk. I wanted to avoid walking through the haze and having the stench cling to me too. 
I finally grabbed Cory’s collar to keep her from running back to her prize, getting the skunk’s blood that was on the dog’s mouth all over my hand. Don’t worry, you can only get rabies from saliva or brain tissue of an infected animal. Our dogs are up-to-date on their shots so they're protected.
The last time the dogs got skunked I had to deal with it by myself since Jay had just had hernia surgery that same day. This time, I was just a wee bit happy that Jay was getting the opportunity to learn all about skunk odor removal.  I offered to help him though with my expert advice, but was determined to allow him to do most of the work.
After a couple of dog baths, wiping down surfaces, mopping wherever they walked in the house, washing clothes and bedding, taking showers and still smelling skunky, it was supper time. Chinese take-out.
I posted a picture of our trouble makers after their baths, looking damp and innocent, on Facebook and asked, “Remind me why we have dogs again?”
The Killer and the Accomplice
As far as I know, even outdoor cats know better than to challenge a skunk. Hell, I've seen pictures of cats and skunks eating out of the same bowl. Dogs are known for pursuing all things bad for them; skunks, porcupines and cars. They will do it even after being hurt or suffering the sting of skunk spray in the face.  They just don’t seem to learn from their mistakes. 
So I started thinking, I have always liked both species, dogs and cats. Each has its pros and cons.  These are some that I came up with: 

You don’t have to wash your hands after petting a cat to get rid of the cat smell.

Dogs rarely vomit up things for you to step in when you least expect it.

Cats don’t eat poop, nor do they roll in the poop or on the dead carcasses of others.

Dogs will often clean up cat vomit for you.  Very helpful.

More people are allergic to cats than dogs. Hey, I’m allergic to both,but I got shots. 

Cats don’t embarrass you by sniffing the crotches of your guests.

Cats don’t deter robbers (unless you have Maine Coon whose size may well convince a burglar you keep wild cats)

Dog vet visits cost a lot more due to extra blood tests for Lyme disease and heartworms.  The cost of spaying a dog is much more than a cat, especially for the larger dogs.

When it comes to traveling, meeting strangers, outdoor activities with their humans, and being trained for a profession such as guiding, hunting, police work or pulling sleds, dogs rule. 

Cats can hide just about anywhere in your house.

Some cats are so good at playing invisible that your friends and family may never know you have one.

One of the selling points of a Maine Coon cat is that it is “dog-like”, meaning it is a gregarious breed.

Dogs are way easier to medicate than a cat. 

Cats are more likely to get on your counter tops, tables and surfaces which have breakable objects.
There are always exceptions
Cats may use your large potted plants as a litter box. 

Dogs may rip your potted plants out of the pot and sling dirt all over the floor (which the cat will then use as a litter box).

Cats have been known to shred upholstery and rugs.

Dogs have been known to rip down dry wall, eat the crotch out of underwear, chew stairs, table legs and numerous other non-edible objects.

An 8-week-old kitten is cute and taught itself to use a litter box about three weeks ago.

               An 8-week-old puppy is cute, but has no bladder control.

Dogs that bark a lot are very annoying and will make your neighbors hate you.

It’s rare for a neighbor to complain about your cat, especially if you keep it inside. 

Infection from cat bites can be dangerous, but a dog is capable of maiming or killing a human.

Conversely, dogs are also more likely than a cat to save a human’s life. 

Dogs offer unconditional love to their humans.

Cats offer their love when you’re trying to do something else, like sleep, read, type on the computer or use the bathroom.

Cats can (and should) be kept exclusively indoors because they can use a litter box in the house.  Dogs have never mastered this skill. For this reason, cats are more convenient pets than dogs.

Some people find the chore of scooping a cat’s litter box repulsive. These are the same people who don’t clean up after their dogs.

And finally, although it’s not recommended, dogs can help you clean the cat’s litter box.
So cute and innocent. For now.
 To further illustrate the differences between cats and dogs, watch this YouTube video.