This is episode 2, the one about cats and dogs. We discuss which is better, cats or dogs. This was originally an example of what an episode might be about, but then we thought it would be fun to actually do this as an episode.
Intro: Welcome to Tricky Fish, a conversation between a Gen X dad and his millennial daughter. Here’s your host, Ian and Rhiannon.
Ian: All right, welcome back. If you’re a first time listener, welcome. If you have listened to us previously, welcome back. So this is Episode Two, the one about cats and dogs.
Rhiannon: Have you ever seen Parks and Rec? Real quick.
Ian: I started to watch that show. It’s a show that seems funny, but I just haven’t got back to it.
Rhiannon: I totally get it. The only reason I ask is they do have like a specific radio personality. And he talks very…deliberately…like…this. The way that you were looking when you were talking at the intro reminded me of that. But anyway, yes, cats and dogs.
Ian: All right. Yeah. So cats and dogs. Before we start, I want to say that there are people who think cats are better, and there are people who think dogs are better, and they are all correct. So I just want to get that out of the way. This is one of the light hearted episodes. So if you listen to the last episode, you know we talked that we’ll be doing light hearted episodes and we’ll be doing things that are a little bit more serious. If this is your first time listening to this, we will do some light hearted episodes, we’ll do some serious episodes. This is a light hearted episode. And how this came about was when you and I were talking about starting this podcast, and we were talking about topics, and I happen to say yeah, you know, like random. And then I was telling you about it. One of the examples I gave you is like you could do a episode about cats versus dogs, and I was not actually going to do this as an episode. But you were like, “No, we should do it”. So here we are.
Rhiannon: It’s because I had a revelation about this a couple weeks ago, and I can’t wait to drop it and then just see how you feel about it.
Ian: Sweet! Okay,so I will say as me personally, I like both cats and dogs. But I am a dog person. I lean more towards a dog. If you come to me and you say “you can have one pet, a dog or a cat”, dog! Boom! I don’t even have to think about it. And I do own a dog, a golden retriever, so that’s where I’m at. And when we do these podcasts, we only know what the topic is. We never discuss it beforehand. So I have no idea what you’re gonna come at this from even though I think I might have an idea. So what about you?
Rhiannon: Okay, so in this specific debate, I would agree that honestly, the only animal I don’t like are mosquitoes. I personally feel like mosquitoes are a waste of time, and a gigantic mistake to whoever created it. Hate that. Thanks for that. But that being said, I’m absolutely a cat person. I can appreciate dogs, but I am 100% a cat person.
Ian: So what makes you more of a cat person than a dog person?
Rhiannon: Okay, so I am the kind of friend that we can literally hang out in the same room together and not talk to each other. And I still consider that quality time. Like you could be reading a book, I’d be scrolling on my phone or vice versa. Whatever one of us will laugh at something, share it with each other, but like not really actively engaged. That is the kind of friend I am. I just like to exist around other living creatures. And cats are the same way. Now with dogs, they’re just another child, but one I can’t reason with.
Ian: Yes, they are like toddlers, that’s for sure.
Rhiannon: Yeah. Because with my cats, I can go on vacation for a week. And I could just have my friend come over and feed them. And my cats are totally self sufficient. Don’t care at all if I am here or not, they just are here.
Ian: They might really enjoy having the place to themselves.
Rhiannon: Yeah, they very well might like the break. Whereas with dogs, they are so much more high maintenance just naturally like as creatures, and I get it. But I don’t have the energy for that. I already have children.
Ian: Well, sure. Dogs are definitely considered pack animals, even though they don’t actually follow the idea of pack like wolves do. A lot of people think that dogs are pack animals and they think of it in that one to one, dogs to wolves thing. But dogs have evolved to be our companion over hundreds of years and the whole pack mentality thing is not really a thing they understand, but they do understand “this is family”, whereas cats tend to be more loners. But I also think that that comes from an evolutionary thing because dogs evolved from a common ancestor with the wolves. There was some canid creature that branches off, one branch goes the way of wolves, which are basically a group of canids that are like, “you know what, I don’t want to have anything to do with people, people suck”. And then the other branch that comes off of that common ancestor becomes what we know as dogs today. And maybe in the beginning, they’re like,”Oh, yeah, you know, I agree with you wolves that people suck, but check it out. I don’t have to go hunt. They’ll just give me food. All I got to do is be cute”.
Rhiannon: For an example of cats in history, Egypt.
Ian: Yes, okay, but what I’m saying is that cats – If you look at Mountain Lions, stuff like that, the large amount of feline species tend to be loners. You do, of course, have prides for lions, but it’s usually like one male and several females. And when another male shows up as a kitten, whatever they call them, it grows up and –
Rhiannon: You mean cubs?
Ian: Is it cubs? Yeah. Like a lion cub? Yeah. So yeah, lion cub. When the lion cub gets older then it’s like, “get the f out, go make your own pride”.
Rhiannon: Except for humans, that’s pretty typical that the adult would then go off on its own and create a new family because that’s pretty much the point of all life, which is amazing to me that humans have to complicate it so much, because literally everything exists to procreate to repopulate and keep going. Like that’s literally the point of life is to just keep going.
Ian: Humans have a longer development period. So when you look at puppies and kittens, for example, since we’re talking about cats and dogs, within like six months, for example, my dog was almost full grown. He was almost at his full height. And that’s a very short time span.
Rhiannon: So he’s done growing? He’s not going to get any bigger?
Rhiannon: Oh, thank God. He is so Large already!
Ian: I love him. There’s reasons for it. But no, it’s just humans just take a long time to get to their full size, and so we have to take care of them for a longer period of time. I’m gonna tell you why I think dogs are better than cats. You can train cats and dogs. But I feel like dogs are easier to train than cats because dogs already have that desire to please. And cats are just like, “uh no”. So they come off as typically not caring. You can also be more thorough with dog training, you can train dogs to do things that you can’t do with cats. So when you think about that, that’s gonna be like service dogs. Like you’re not going to get a service cat, right? Search and rescue dogs. You don’t see search and rescue cats.
Rhiannon: That would be so cute though. Imagine like a Panther. Oh my god! Bagheera as a service cat from Jungle Book.
Ian: Nice. Well, yeah, you can go with that one. You want to stay away from Shere Khan, though.
Rhiannon: I mean, it depends on if you like a bad boy.
Ian: I guess so. So you can train dogs to do different things. And I think that cat training with cats is more about setting boundaries. I will give a major point to cats though in the potty training thing. Because almost from the start, you can put a cat into a cat box, and they just get it,
Rhiannon: That’s an evolutionary thing because they prefer sand. Because the whole point is that they have to be able to dig so they can bury their scent so that predators or other creatures don’t know that they’re there. So they naturally would prefer sand over anything else, or like that kind of texture. So if it’s going to come between a hardwood floor or a litter box, what are you gonna do?
Ian: Right, whereas puppies, you got to take them out and you got to catch them before they start going so you can give them the idea. And then you get them out, and then they’ve decided that they don’t need to go potty and they want to go play instead. And it’s over and over and over again. And eventually you can potty train them, but cats are much easier in that regard. Now see, the reason why I like the dog is because there is no litter box. And I know people are going to say I have to pick up the poop.
Rhiannon: You can do puppy pads. I know people who have done those to specifically train their dog to that, like overnight or if they’re traveling or something, so that kind of counts as like its own puppy box.
Ian: And that’s what I did with Vader. Vader is the name of my dog. So eventually now he knows to go outside, so I don’t have to put down puppy pads.
Rhiannon: I have three cats. Whiskey is the only one who is an indoor outdoor cat. If I keep him inside, he’s just a giant asshole to the girls and it drives me crazy. So if I let him outside during the day, we’ve got this good routine that he comes in before dark because we have coyotes that live out in the woods behind our house. He’s nice to them and that’s great. And then Sugar and Eska just stay in all the time. So he’s the only one that goes outside. But I have seen him go to the bathroom outside too. So like it helps with the litter box situation in the house that during the day he’s outside. I really should find whiskies I shouldn’t have said that. He’s in the woods Guys, I can’t track them down.
Ian MacTire: Right? Well, it’s like, I can pick up the poop with the poop bag and toss it out. There’s no smell. I mean, there’s the initial smell for whatever is there. Whereas cat pee?
Rhiannon: Yeah, but that’s a reflection of how of how often it’s changed out and I apologize if that’s a problem for you right now, I swear I just cleaned it out.
Ian: It’s not. I’ve had cats over the years. I just don’t currently own one right now. But even cleaning it out, like on a daily basis, it still eventually builds up. It’s pee, right? It’s not solid, even if you’re taking out the more solid chunks of the litter.
Rhiannon: Yeah, there’s still remnants.
Ian: Yeah, it’s just gross. It makes me just gag. And I’m just like, “No, no, thank you”. I just find it easier to pick up dog poop. But you know, if you don’t really want to pick up dog poop, there are services out there that will come and clean up the dog poop for you.
Rhiannon: Interesting. Imagine living the kind of life that you could financially afford to pay somebody else to come clean up your dog’s shit. I want to be so financially secure that when I move, I can hire somebody else to do the physical moving. For me. That’s the kind of financial security. I feel like if I can hire somebody to move my things, I could afford to hire somebody to come and get my dog shit.
Ian: I’ll say that I don’t pick up my dog’s poop at home. I’ll pick it up if we’re out hiking or whatever. But my roommate has a dog. And she was already paying for someone to come pick up her dog’s poop. And they’re both big dogs. So you can’t go out there and go, “Oh, that’s that dog’s poop. Oh, that’s my dog’s poop”, right? There’s just no way to differentiate. So I was just like, okay, we’ll just pay the extra for the extra dog. So I don’t actually pick it up in my own yard simply because somebody else does it. But if it was just me, I would go out and pick it up. I don’t have a problem with it. Although if it was diarrhea, I usually just go take a huge gallon jug and just pour water on it, becase you’re not going to pick it up with a poop bag.
Rhiannon: Because of the motion that you were making with your hand, I imagined you walking behind Vader holding like a pitcher like you’re trying to catch the diarrhea with it.
Ian: Oh, no. That’s gross! No, no. No, no. I Watch him to see if it just squirts out. I fortunately have not had to deal with that in awhile. When he was a puppy he got the squirts. And that was horrible. My wife at the time and I were crate training him. I put him in the crate for the night when we lay down. He started low level whining. And I was like, Vader Calm down, buddy. I thought he wanted to be out and playing. And something told me, because he just would not stop at all, that something’s up. So maybe he’s got to go potty. Even though I took him out before we went down to bed. I got him out and as soon as I sat him down he just sprayed. That poor puppy had been holding it.
Rhiannon: Poor baby! He was trying so hard.
Ian: Yeah. And he was trying hard not to go in his kennel. That was what it was. He was trying to say “I gotta go”.
Rhiannon: And you know, when it hits it hits.
Ian: Yeah, I will give him major props that he held it for that long.
Rhiannon: Wow! Good for you for recognizing that need.
Ian: Yeah, it was probably an hour. It makes me sound horrible.
Rhiannon: Well, I mean, if you’re crate training, puppies usually whine. So I feel like that’s totally justified.
Ian: Yeah. And it seemed like he came more alive in the night. It’s like he had two batteries. He had the one that he used during the day, and then he had the backup battery because he really wanted to play at night. It’s like, “buddy, you got to sleep, man. I got to get up in the morning, I can’t do this”. So yeah, we got him out of there. It was really kind of Hollywood comedic effect, you know, like you watch movies where somebody’s like spewing poop, and it’s all over the place and spraying like a hose. That was Vader. And it was like, “I’m sorry”, but I felt so bad because I know it was an hour because I looked at the time when I got up. I’m like, Oh my God, he’s been at this for an hour. I’m like, “you’ve been holding this for an hour, buddy. I’m so sorry”. Which is also kind of funny, because if I step on someone’s foot, I don’t care. But if I step on my dog’s foot I’m all “are you okay?”
Rhiannon: It’s because you’re emotionally invested in him.
Ian: I am emotionally invested in him. Another thing is that dogs love to play. That’s another thing that I like. You can play with cats, I know. There’s people out there saying “I go play with my cat all the time”. Like, yeah, sure, okay.
Rhiannon:I do. Whiskey goes on walks with me too and I don’t even have to put him on a leash.
Ian: But they play to a limit and then cats are just like “I’m done”. And then it doesn’t matter. You can wave that red dot all over the place and they’re not gonna care. With Vader, that dude will chase a ball for hours if I let him get away with that. I’d be out there dying like, “dude, my arms falling off from throwing this ball for an hour”. You know, I like that. I can take him hiking. You take your cat for a walk, but that’s not generally what cats do. I never see anybody taking their cat for a hike.
Rhiannon: I’ve seen it like a couple videos on the internet, viral videos where people travel with cats. I saw a video recently of someone driving and living out of their van kind of like a tiny home and they had three cats that they were traveling with.
Ian: I feel like cats would probably win out in that area over a dog but I don’t know. Dogs are a little bit more resilient, I think, than cats. They handle change a little bit better. I remember when I was moving with cats. They would hide under something, you wouldn’t see them for days. And then eventually they’d come out and kind of poke around like “what’s up?”. But you get a dog and he’s instantly just sniffing all over. Like “oh, cool! Is this the new place? All right, you know, let’s party!” And I’m sure there are people that do take their cats on hikes, but the best cat I ever had was Kuzco. But if I ever looked at Kuzco and said, you want to go for walkies, she would just be “I don’t care, whatever. Have at it”.
Rhiannon: She wouldn’t have given a fuck! You can go haved a fun walkie. I’ll be here.
Ian: Exactly. I look at Vader and go, “hey,you wanna go on a walkie”, He’s like, “let’s go, I’m all in.”
Rhiannon: He’s down ass bitch, as Haley calls it.
Ian: Yeah, and what’s funny is we had the exterminator come out to our house. Every month they come out and just re spray so we don’t get bugs in the house. I was working because I’m currently working from home. And my roommate texts me and says we can’t let the dogs out for an hour.
Rhiannon: Which you got to do in this area, because ants.
Ian: Ants are horrible.
Rhiannon: Ants were such a problem for me at my old house.
Ian: Yeah. So we had the people out, they sprayed, my roommate texts me “we can’t let the dogs out for an hour”. And this is getting near my first break of the day. And I just shot back “What about walking him?” Walking was fine. They just can’t be outside around the house. So it’s cool. Now my dog doesn’t know how to read. I’m not reading it to him. like “Hey, buddy, this is what the roommate said”, but I look at him and I go “oh man, dude, you gotta stay in the house for the next hour,no walkies, walkies have been canceled”, and he gave me this look like “what are you talking about?” He looked like I super disappointed him. And that’s another thing I like about dogs is dogs seem to have kind of more of a personality. It’s not that cats don’t have personality. They seem to have more facial expressions than cats do. Now, of course, I really think that’s an evolutionary thing, that they’ve evolved to be able to use those expressions because they figured out they can manipulate us with that. Think about puppy eyes, there’s a reason why there’s a saying about puppy eyes. But if I say hiking to my dog, my dog has no idea what that means. Wanna go hiking? Dogs like “huh?”
Rhiannon: I mean, you could if you just use that word instead of walking.
Ian: I do. I always use hike along with it, but he just doesn’t get it. It doesn’t click for him. But if I say long walkies, he knows what that is. If I go, you want to go on a hike, he doesn’t react. He’s lays there like, okay. But then as soon as I say long walkies, his ears perk up. He’s like, “Oh, yeah, let’s go”. So I think in this case, because I call a walk, walkies. And I taught him that word, because I would say something like, yeah, we’ll probably need to walk down there or something that had nothing to do with taking the dog for the walk. And he’s like, “let’s go!”, and Golden Retrievers are a very energetic breed. So you get an excited golden retriever and it’s like, “okay, buddy, calm down, you gotta calm down”. So I had to start calling it walkies. So if I said walk,
Rhiannon: It wouldn’t trigger that response.
Ian: Right! But if I said, walkies, then he’s like, “Okay, let’s go!”.
Rhiannon: Way to recognize that.
Ian: I think like it’s easier to train a dog for something like that than a cat. So I think that’s another reason why I’m more preferential to dogs than cats is they’re easier to train, you can train them to things. And then finally, if you’re wanting to lead an active lifestyle, a dog will help you with that.
Rhiannon: Some dogs, yeah.
Ian: Some dogs, in general. One of the things I suffer from is depression, and having a dog, especially a golden retriever – he’s very laid back, if I’m just not feeling well, he’ll lay by me, and he’ll just chill, he’s not really “hey, let’s go do stuff now”, but it forces me to get up, because I gotta let him out, I’ve got to feed him and take him for a walk. Or sometimes I just don’t have enough spoons to take him for a walk, so I take him out in the backyard and just throw the ball for a little bit. Now I do not recommend that if you have depression, you go get a dog. That’s not necessarily the solution, you have to look at your situation. If you’re somebody who has a debilitating physical or mental illness, if it’s something that keeps you down and in bed most of the time, don’t get an animal, because it’s just not fair to the animal, even if it’s something that you want.
Rhiannon: Plus it has the potential of becoming something that you feel guilty about, because it’s another task that you don’t really have the spoons for.
Ian: True. When I was thinking about getting a dog, that was one of the things that I was thinking about, can I properly take care of the animal?
Rhiannon: That’s actually something I bring up when coworkers talk about kids or animals. I always bring up that I don’t know, who gave me the okay to be responsible for other living things, because I’m barely responsible for myself. Who made that executive decision? Because I want them fired.
Ian: Right? There was part of me that was like, I just don’t know if I could do it. But there was part of me, that was like, well, no, this will be good, because I also have a chronic pain condition. If I’m having a pain flare up – I exist in a state of pain, all the time. And you could easily find yourself not moving, because you’re just trying to get into a position that’s comfortable so you’re not hurting. And if you’re not moving, you’re not hurting as much.
Rhiannon: But then your body can like lock up.
Ian: Yeah, and then it’s leading to other health conditions. So having a dog forces me to get up and move, and there are times that I’m hurting, in not a full blown flare up, but I am hurting a little bit more than normal, it forces me to take him on a walk, even if it’s just around the block. So the benefit is that of course he gets to walk and to see other stuff, but it’s also forcing me to get up and move and not stay in one spot. And that is a benefit for me. But I do know people that also have chronic pain that that is not ever going to be a thing for them. They’re not going to be able to take the dog for a walk, and that’s okay. And that’s the thing, you do have to kind of look at it and weigh it out. And I weighed it out and I realized that that was probably going to be a health benefit to me. A cat is just gonna lay there, they don’t really need a lot of interaction. They’ll come up when they want to, they’ll put their butt in your face when they feel like that’s the hip thing to do. Whatever reason that a cat’s doing it, I’m guessing it’s because they think it’s hip. I don’t know.
Rhiannon: Do cats have a concept of what hip even means?
Ian: I don’t know. I try to meow at cats and they just look at me like I’m an idiot.
Rhiannon: Well, yeah! If you go and talk to someone who speaks Spanish and then just speak gibberish, they would also do that because even though to you it sounds similar, it’s not actual Spanish.
Ian: Okay, but when I bark, my dogs all excited, like “Oh, cool! You know how to bark too. Alright!”
Rhiannon: I think he’s just humoring you because he loves you.
Ian: And that would edge out a cat. He’s more supportive. He’s more like “you’re cool, go on, bark, live your best life”. Cats are just like, “oh, you’re an idiot, shut up”. I think dogs are better for my self esteem than cats are. Not that you should get an animal for your self esteem. I’m not saying that at all.
Rhiannon: It’s interesting to me that pretty much every point you’ve made is that the reason that dogs are better is because they’re more obedient and regularly useful for things and they are chronic people pleasers. That’s a weird way of looking at it, but that’s how my brain registered it
Ian: When you put it like that, that makes it sound horrible.
Rhiannon: I’m just just summarizing what you were saying. I’m trying to think of how to explain this. So I’ll use the latest example that you made about how there are no such thing as service cats. And I totally I get that. But here’s the thing, my three cats all serve different purposes because of my depression. I wouldn’t say I’m prone, but one of my coping mechanisms is to sleep too much, one of the typical run of the mill symptoms. Whiskey, if I sleep for too long and that’s like more than 10 hours at a time, which is more than enough for me, he will actually come up and cuddle with me, and he’ll like try to get my attention by pawing at my arm and poking me a little bit to get my attention. If that doesn’t work, he headbutts me and moves my arm to wake me up and then demands attention and only pets will make that stop. And then Sugar, my smallest cat, she is so on top of eating that she is like clockwork about her meal times. When I first got her we had a really rigid schedule because we had Paul’s kids at the house too and so I was regularly balancing a whole family’s worth of stuff. We had breakfast at the same time every day and I fed her at the same time that I fed me and the kids, and then same thing with dinner because we had breakfast and dinner together. This cat gets me up out of bed, like Whiskey wakes me up, and then Sugar is standing right there on my floor, just staring at me, willing me to get up and go feed her. Then she looks at me until I grab something for food too and she like watches and then we eat together.
Ian: I feel like the first cat doesn’t care about you. It wants to eat.
Rhiannon: Whiskey wakes me up. Sugar’s the one that has us go get food.
Ian: But Whiskey’s like “I want food” but he’s being like “hey I’m gonna be kind of cool”.
Rhiannon: Whiskey does it regardless of time of day. When I got COVID and I was hibernating for a week and a half, he did it every 10 hours. And so I was waking up and I was able to take my temperature I was eating food, I was still hydrating, like regardless of the time in that 9 to 10 hour range he was waking me up. So it doesn’t even matter if it’s around meal times. Sugar is the one that cares about food. But again, it doesn’t matter what time of the day it is she general ballpark the beginning of the day, We have food together. Later in the day, we have food together, and she will remind me.
Ian: I was gonna say the second cat’s like, I’m not gonna perform the circus tricks. Feed me Now.
Rhiannon: She herds me to the kitchen if I’m in the bedroom on the opposite side of the apartment. She’ll come into the hallway, she’ll stop and turn around to make sure I’m following and then I’ll walk a few feet out, she’ll run forward into the dining room, and then she’ll turn around to make sure I’m coming with. I’ve tested it and one time I turned into the bathroom, or I turned into the other bedroom, she comes back chirps at me and then tries herding me to the kitchen brings me all the way here and we have food.
Ian: “Food human now!”
Rhiannon: Yeah. And then that’s part of having an eating disorder when I was younger. So the fact that sugar helps me regularly eat keeps it so that I don’t fall into those old patterns again, especially when I’m stressed out. I don’t even think about eating most of the time. Paul reminds me regularly to eat, Tehran reminds me regularly, but also mostly Sugar.
Ian: Now I’m feeling bad because I don’t remind you to eat regularly.
Rhiannon: It’s ok though cuz I have all these other things, all these other creatures that are doing it for me. But Eska, she is the emotional support animal for me, I guess. Anytime that I am starting to feel the really bad depressive low coming on or like I’m gonna start crying or anything like that, no matter where she’s at, she just kind of miraculously appears and then settles right into my lap and just demands pets. So as soon as I have that bad energy, she is immediately there and she’s like, “I’m here, give me loves, we’ll get through this together. I’ll be your emotional trauma doula, we got this”.
Ian: Or it could be, “Look, you’re paying attention to yourself too much. You need to pay attention to me”.
Rhiannon: I mean, sure? I’m gonna say my revelation that I had about cats versus dogs and then it will lead to another point that I want to make.
Rhiannon: I like all animals, I can appreciate dogs too, so I’m not saying I don’t like dogs, but I don’t like people that really like dogs. And when I say that, if you look at someone like Gus For example, he loves cats so much he got tiger stripes tattooed on his back.
Ian: That’s dedication.
Rhiannon: I understand that is an extreme thing, right? So yes, I understand that there are people who love cats to an extreme level, but I’ve never seen a person who loves cats look like their cats, where with dogs, if people really love their dogs, they look like their dogs.
Ian: Wait a minute! So I really love my dog. Are you saying I look like my dog?
Rhiannon: No,I mean think of you know, you’ve seen pictures on the internet were like some woman has the same haircut as her poodle? And then like their whole life is like being identical and living their lives vicariously together. People with cats don’t do that.
Ian: I feel like I should google that and double check.
Rhiannon: I’m sure they’re are out there. But in my experience, if you really, really, really like dogs, it’s not something I can really vibe with. And it’s because your biggest complaint about cats is that they’re emotionally unavailable.
Ian: No, I’m joking about them being emotionally unavailable.
Rhiannon: But that’s the point so many people make. So many people are like cats are assholes.
Ian: I wouldn’t go that far. Unless they’re shoving things off, then it would be like that.
Rhiannon: Well yeah. Cats are a wonderful lesson in consent and boundaries, actually. Because if you look at cats, you said yourself, you play with them, they’re down for it, and then when they’re done, they’re done. That’s the lesson of communicating like, “Yeah, I’m ready for it, I’m consenting to this activity. Let’s do this.” And then, “Okay, I’ve reached my limit, I no longer want to do it, I’m done”. They communicate that. And then if you decide to pursue that further, that’s you ignoring their withdrawal of consent and their boundaries. And they’re not going to give in to you when you’re not respecting their boundaries. So then naturally, that cat isn’t going to warm up to you and want to play with you and be pet by you, if you were literally just disrespecting their boundaries. Whereas with dogs, generally they’re people pleasers to the point that no matter what they’re feeling or doing, if their human wants attention, they’re like, “Okay, let’s go. Let’s do it”.
Ian: I see where you’re coming from. But I will say this, cats when they’re done, and they don’t want you touching them, they’re done, they’ve withdrawn consent, they’ll kind of scratch or kind of bite, then you’re just like, “Oh, I guess the cat’s being a jerk”. But dogs will also tell you that they’ve reached a point where they don’t want to do it. And sometimes that’s like a low growl. Sometimes with Vader, I’ll be like, “Hey, buddy”, and I’ll be playing with him, and he’ll just give me this low growl like, “nope”.
Rhiannon: But the point that you were making about cats is that they just suddenly change their minds and don’t want to play anymore. Whereas dogs are less inclined to do that.
Ian: No, that’s not really where I was going with that. Where I was going with it is that dogs are more generally, taking the consent for animals, not forcing them to do whatever it is, I don’t force my dog to do whatever he doesn’t want to do. And he’ll let me know. When he’s done playing ball, he just won’t bring me the ball back, or he’ll bring me the ball back and when I take it, he goes off and does whatever. And it’s like, “do you want to play ball?”, he just ignores me and said at that point, I’m like, Okay, he’s done playing ball, although I’ve gotten better at figuring out when he’s about to get ready to be done playing ball. So I’m not forcing him to have to go “dude I really don’t want to play”. I’m just saying that the dog is more likely to be playing longer.
Rhiannon: But again, that’s your desire for this creature to meet your needs and be useful to you versus respecting its own desires and needs. Again though, I brought up earlier, I am the kind of person that just likes to exist around other things. With dogs, the whole point is that you want that interaction, and you want that give and take, and that back and forth relationship, whereas all I want is another living thing that shares the same space as me. I don’t need my cats to do tricks. I don’t need them to meet needs, like emotional or physical. I don’t need them to do tasks for me. And I just appreciate that they allow me to be in their life because if the animal wants out, it’ll get out. And Whiskey, especially, other people have tried to adopt him. There was one time when we lived in Aberdeen that he was gone for like three weeks and I was really worried about him and then he came home with a haircut.
Ian: I’m sorry, that’s hilarious
Rhiannon: That’s weird right? What kind of a cat just goes out one day and then comes home with fur two inches shorter, but perfectly everywhere? You know, so at a certain point, my cat actively is being polyamorous as well and has several homes and families that love on him, which I’m happy for him. But he chooses to come home and be with me when he literally could leave and fuck off whenever he wants. There’d be nothing I could do about it. But they choose to stay here. They choose to be here with me and exist with me and they do play with me. I play with them all the time, especially with the laser. I am an asshole with the cats and lasers. Paul has this one flashlight that it’s like a green laser that has an attachment that looks like a kaleidoscope, and he’ll start the green laser and just kind of mess around with Momo and Eska with it, and then he’ll put the kaleidoscope on. One time Momo just kind of froze on the floor like a deer in the headlights because all of a sudden she was just covered in a sea of dots, and I realized now I might’ve traumatized my cat. But it was funny in the moment!
Ian: Well, I got to address what you were saying. I think a lot of people do approach dogs that way. I don’t. And I know that growing up, you never really saw me with a dog.
Rhiannon: We had Pharaoh and Naomi.
Ian: We did. But if you remember, I was commuting back and forth to work. So I was leaving at like three, four in the morning. And I wasn’t getting home until like eight, nine at night. So I didn’t really have time to take care of the dog. And the lady that gave me the dog. She initially wanted to give me the dog, and I told her I didn’t have time to take care of it. And she brought it over during the week when I wasn’t there. And then I showed up and your stepmom was like, “hey, that lady brought your dog over”. And I’m like, you’ve got to take that dog back, we don’t have time for it. And then she was like, “well, we’ll take care of it”. And then she just ended up shoving both the dogs on the side there on that concrete, never really cleaning up after them. If it were me, I would not have owned that dog, because I didn’t have time to take care of it. And that’s why for the large part of you growing up, I never had a dog.
Rhiannon: That’s honestly the thing that prevents me from having a dog now was one we live in an apartment, and I would want a yard if we were going to have a dog. But that is that I don’t have time for something that needs me that much. I have a child, yes, but I also have a partner that is here to take care of her as well. Whereas if all of us go somewhere, I don’t have a way to have a dog sitter.
Ian: So are you saying that if you were a single mom, you’d have to find a new home for your kid?
Rhiannon: I’d have to find a new home for myself as well, we wouldn’t be able to live on our own.
Ian: Seriously, the reason why other than that one dog, the reason why I never owned a dog even while growing up is because I couldn’t trust your stepbrother to take care of it. Your stepmom would be like he’ll take care of it. And he never did. She never did. responsibility.
Rhiannon: Yeah, cuz children never want responsibility.
Ian: Well, true. I would bring that up. And then you were too young to take care of the animals. And I was just not going to put them in that kind of position. I’m getting home in like eight, nine o’clock. I just got to quickly eat dinner and get to bed so I can get up for the commute the next morning. I’m not seeing this dog at all. So it was a long while before I even knew what the conditions for these two dogs were, and when I found out I got mad. And they ended up getting re homed because I was not keeping them in that situation.
Rhiannon: Good! Thanks for doing that.
Ian: We couldn’t take care of it, I couldn’t take care of it, just no. And I don’t like rehoming animals. I got Vader, I made a promise that I would take care of him for his entire life. And that’s what I’m going to do. I don’t approach animals from a pet human standpoint, I approach it as companionship. Vader’s my service dog, so he’s medical equipment under the law. But even if he was not, then he’d be considered a pet for legal purposes. But I don’t view him as those things. He’s trained to help mitigate a disability, in my case, PTSD, I look at him as a friend, as a companion. I don’t own him. I own him for purposes of legal property and how humans deal with stuff. I don’t view him as a piece of property. I view him as a companion, as you know, like, I would view my friend, like he’s my friend.
Ian: I’ve always approached animals that way, even when I was a kid. I always understood the concept of pet. But I always felt that because you can train dogs, and you can also train cats too, what I’m saying is you can train dogs to do these different things. And in order to train them, that animal has to have a level of intelligence. And there has been studies that have shown that dogs have permanence like we do. So the kind of myth that people believe is that they get excited when you come back because you were gone, and then they forgot you. They don’t, they still remember you. They’re excited to see you come home. Back when Vader was still in training, he wasn’t fully trained as a service dog, I couldn’t take him with me to work, for example. So when I would leave to go to work, he remembered me, he didn’t stop remembering me. And then when I came back, he was excited to see me. Now he goes out with me, does different things. When we go hiking, I’m not hiking with medical equipment, I’m not hiking with property or whatever. I’m hiking with a friend, a companion. So me liking a dog isn’t because of the control aspect of it. I just feel like, while I feel cats are intelligent too – I don’t want anybody to think like I think cats are dumber than dogs. Cats can be dumber than dogs, dogs can be dumber than dogs. I feel like animals have their own internalized world. It may not be the way we internalize as human beings.
Rhiannon: Oh, absolutely, yeah.
Ian: But I feel like when I’m trying to communicate with a dog, I feel like I’m having more success communicating with it than I am with a cat.
Rhiannon: I think it’s just a matter of communication styles. Because that’s another thing too, you were talking about expressive faces. Cats actually have their own way of communicating by how they blink their eyes. So they also have a system. If they’re looking at you and they slowly close their eyes and then open them back up, they trust you and they feel safe around you. If they do it long term, that’s their way of being like, “I love you. You’re wonderful”. So they’re communicating with eyeballs. They don’t even need the whole face. But I also see my cat smile all the time, so they do too. It’s just a matter of knowing what to look for and learning communication styles.
Ian: I feel like maybe you shouldn’t get so high if you’ve seen your cat smile
Rhiannon: We’re all mad here darling.
Ian: I think at the end of the day for me I am more of a dog person, again because I’m going to go hang out with this, which is amazing. My dog was laying on the bed near me the other day and he yawned and his face was like almost right there next to my face. And when a dog yawns it’s wide, so the mouth is open wide, and you just see these teeth, and you don’t see it as much with cats, but you do see it with dogs. And I was petting him, I was talking to him, and that’s when he yawned. So I’m looking at him when he yawns, just to set the scene. So I’m staring right down in this muzzle,
Rhiannon: Almost like in the movies with a snake as the antagonist. Like when the jaw unhinges, but with a dog.
Ian: Yeah, right. And I just hit in that moment, like, “wow, this is an animal that can literally bite my face off”.
Rhiannon: And actually cats, based off of the kind of damage that they can do versus their mass, they’re actually the deadliest land predator. If they were bigger, they would be the the top of the food chain.
Ian: But in looking down at this, it just hit me at that moment. I am sharing my bed and my existence with a predator. And this predator is chilling with me
Rhiannon: To catch a predator dad.
Ian: Yeah, I got one and I’m cuddling with him.
Rhiannon: And you’re cuddling with one. What’s the guy’s name that the show?
Ian: Chris Hanson?
Rhiannon: Yeah. Does he know about your and Vader’s relationship?
Ian: Well, no cuz Vader’s an adult now and Vader clears out his history . That’s horrible!
Rhiannon: For those not in the live dining room studio, I’m that one GIF of that guy that’s blinking and like kind of turning his head to the side a little bit. And just like slow blinking. That’s my reaction to what just happened.
Ian: It’s just amazing, cuz this thing can rip my throat out. But we have chosen to coexist. And we’re buddies.
Rhiannon: That’s why I’ve never understood why humans have such a hard time accepting other humans that just simply don’t speak the same language, when humans have kind of committed to cohabitating with entirely different species with even less communication.
Ian: That’s a good question.
Rhiannon: We’re talking about deciphering how my cats blink as communication styles. And people can’t communicate with someone who just doesn’t speak the same verbal language, but we still have body language and tone and facial expression, and so many other options like technology and science, But we can totally accept animals. And horses! I’m sure there are ways you can tell that horses communicate, but I don’t know them.
Ian: If they bite you, they don’t like you. I don’t know if that’s true.
Rhiannon: But the point I’m trying to make though is why is other humans you can’t talk to so bad when you adopt things? Goldfish! You can’t communicate with fish! Jellyfish! I would love to have a pet jellyfish. I will never do that, that’s more maintenance than I have the energy for, but I definitely cannot communicate with the jellyfish. But people aren’t willing to try to figure out a new way to communicate with someone like a human. Like what the hell?
Ian: I feel like if you’re willing to communicate with an animal, you should be totally willing to try and communicate with other people even if you don’t understand them. Although I will say that the biting, usually they’re telling you they hate you, “I hate you!” and then they bite you. So you’re already very clear with that. But alright, anyway, we kind of dragged this out a little bit longer and we are going to end it here. So any closing thoughts?
Rhiannon: Yeah, I get your arguments, very valid points. I totally see the need and the desire there, but I still think cats are better.
Ian: Alright, well,dogs are better. We all know that.
Rhiannon: No, cats are better.
Ian: And we’re both correct.
Rhiannon: Yeah, I mean, that’s fine.
Ian: All right, we’re ending this episode. Thanks for listening. Have a week
Rhiannon: And this has been another episode of Tricky Fish. If you liked what you heard and want more of us, you can find us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever else you find your podcast. Reviews and comments really help us out so feel free to leave us one. Otherwise, you can find us at trickyfishpodcast.com and Twitter at trickyfishpod.
© Copyright 2021 Tricky Fish Podcast, All Rights Reserved, except where otherwise noted.