Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

In Praise of Dogs and Cats (Friends, all)

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As we’re in the winter doldrums now — caught between two holidays, where everything seems both surreal and pointless — it’s grown harder for me to come up with blog subjects that have some meaning.  And thus, might strike a chord with someone else.

But there’s one thing I am always grateful for, and that’s the companionship of my Mom’s three dogs.  They’re my friends; they have personalities all their own.  Even though they have the typical dog faults — they love food to distraction and will gladly eat themselves sick over and over again, for just one — and they’re not “shining beacons of light,” it’s still a joy to be around them.  They enjoy life for what it is: they get fed, they’re warm and out of the cold, they get affection and told they’re loved quite frequently.  And they are content.

Lest you think I only feel like this about dogs, think again.  Cats, too, are very special creatures.  They definitely have personalities, in some ways stronger ones than many dogs.  Their reasoning can be easier to follow by human beings — or at least, by me — and while cats can be aloof, if they like you, they let you know it.  And they, too, are a joy to be around because they know what’s important: companionship and caring.  Anything else just doesn’t register for cats, being profoundly irrelevant to their lives.

I keep thinking what are the most important qualities in a friend, and I think “companionship and caring” about sums it up.  This is why pets are so important to many human beings, because it gets harder every day to reach out and keep trying to make a connection with another living soul.

I know that in the strongest human friendships, these same two things — companionship, and caring — are what count the most.  Then comes communication — something you don’t need to worry about as much with a cat or dog, as they read nonverbal clues far better than most humans — and shared experiences, among many other things that go into making up a strong friendship with a human being.

Friends are vitally important.  In the end, it doesn’t matter so much what kind of friends we have, though it’s much easier for human beings to have a human friend or two as that’s really the best way we have to be fully understood, as a companion animal, no matter how wonderful it might be, cannot reason on a human level.  (Nor should it be asked to do so.)

So at this time of year, where it’s cold and dark and dreary over the Northern Hemisphere, do your best to celebrate your friends, near and far.  If they’re still alive, tell ’em you appreciate them; if they’re dead, celebrate their lives as best you’re able.  And please do remember to pet your cat or dog a few extra times, too.  They’ll appreciate it, and it might actually help you out, too.

Written by Barb Caffrey

December 28, 2011 at 9:08 pm

Posted in friendship, Writing

Tagged with , ,

2 Responses

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  1. I think often, our pet friends are better, because they WANT your attention while our human counterparts may need a break or down time because they need their pets to listen to them.


    December 29, 2011 at 5:15 am

    • That is certainly true, Lika.

      This post came to mind partly because of Mom’s dogs; mostly it’s because my friend Jeff had several cats. I don’t know how they’re handling his passing; I know dogs tend to have a really hard time with it. But I also know that while Jeff was here, his cats were very important to him and he was certainly very important to them.

      I definitely think companion animals should be appreciated as much as possible. St. Francis of Assisi believed that animals deserved to go to Heaven (I know that’s a paraphrase, but it certainly seems to be what he believed); they have personalities and souls all their own, though I don’t think that’s quite how St. Francis put it. (He would’ve been very careful if he’d have said animals have souls; he wouldn’t have been likely to live too long if he had, back then. So he kind of talked around the issue.) I definitely appreciate the wonderful animals I’ve known — including one very interesting cat, Caesar, and several dogs, including Clyde, Floyd and Cuddles.

      Barb Caffrey

      December 29, 2011 at 5:29 am

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