OK cat-lovers and dog-lovers, this is your chance to speak upon your pet preference! Send us your letters describing why your dog or cat is the ultimate pet, or send in your cat and dog photos. Each month we’ll highlight the best arguments and photos, and choose one winner in each category to receive an Our Place to Paws T-Shirt!
THE DOG DAYS OF SUMMER ARE HERE!
By Joan Schweighardt
After first being introduced to the spouse of a fellow employee, a woman I know confided to me that the spouse turned out “to be a dog.” I said nothing, but the comment irked me. Of course the woman only meant to convey that the spouse was not as physically attractive as she would have thought. And yes, that’s a petty observation, and in fact the woman who declared it has never been one of my favorite people. But as someone who has befriended—over a great number of years—shepherds, setters, spaniels, boxers, labs and combinations thereof, what I resented most was the implication that dogs, generally, are unattractive. Nothing could be less true!
So here’s my beef (and I hope I’m not offending any cow lovers): More than one person in the past few weeks has said to me, “Well, I guess these are the dog days of summer.” Again, the comparison is meant to be derogative. These various people are referring to those hot, muggy days when you have no ambition to do anything or go anywhere. The implication is that the lethargic state you find yourself in is the permanent condition of our canine buddies. I don’t know about your dogs, but even on the hottest, muggiest day my Boxador will fetch his ball if I am animated enough to throw it for him. And my Shepard Chow, though getting on in years herself, will run in from any room in the house if I yell “Come” from the kitchen.
On behalf of dogs everywhere, I would like to suggest that we refrain from saying someone is “dog tired,” or “sick as a dog” or even “doggone it.” And how about “Every dog has his day”? We all know what that implies. Yes, these are hot muggy days and probably even hot muggy times. But if you are reading the stories on this blog, you probably have your dogs in your life—or cats or turtles or cockatoos—to keep you cheerful and cool. So, there you go… You lucky dog
Spring Essay 2010
The Cat Who Started the Stray Train
By Joanne Kramer
My Dad said "Don't feed that cat--he'll never leave". That was back in July of 1973. I was just a few weeks shy of my 14th birthday. So what would you do? I went into the pantry, got a can of tuna, opened it, put it on a paper plate and took it outside to feed the big orange and white cat. I just didn't let my Dad see me. It wasn't that my dad didn't like animals. He was just too busy for pets and besides men don't like to admit that they like animals, especially cats.
When my dad noticed the empty paper plate he said "I thought I told you not to feed that cat"? I said, "Well I thought you meant not to feed him right there where you were sitting". Dad, being a man of few words, shook his head and walked away.
"Morris" was the star of television commercials back then, so I named this cat Morris. Hey, I was 13. Morris was missing half of his back right leg, but when he ran you couldn't tell. It looked like it had been surgically removed and he seemed okay about it.
When dad realized that Morris wasn't going anywhere he said that he was not allowed to come in the house and we'd better get him up to the vet and have him neutered so there wouldn't be lots of kittens showing up. Of course, at the onset of the next thunderstorm dad said Morris could come into the solarium but not in the rest of the house--until it started to get cold and soon enough Morris went wherever he damn well pleased in the house.
Morris was not a lap cat. He would let some people other than me pet him, but when he'd had enough, a swipe of the claw told whoever was petting him that he'd had enough. If Morris was in the middle of your bed, you slept around him, careful not to disturb.
Morris didn't care for other animals. We often saw him chasing dogs--very large dogs. He would go into the woods and come out covered in blood--his and whatever he was fighting with. We kept our local veterinarian in business, I think.
Morris was not a kitten when he moved in so we never knew how old he was. We had him for ten years until he passed away from leukemia. He started the line of strays that would show up and never leave our house. Dad stopped complaining about it when he realized it was futile.
Today I have three inside cats, two fosters from a local shelter, eight ferals that live out back (all spayed/neutered) and one dog--which was also a stray. It's a lot of work, but there's a lot of love there too and I couldn't imagine not having pets. Or maybe I should say THEY have me. And it all started with Morris.
Winter Essay 2009
Silver's Story - A Girl, A Loyal Dog and A Scarf
I was raised in a small farming community in central Illinois. Back then, dogs were not chained up and ran around freely. (Not a good idea, I know.)
When I was about 6 or 7 years old (I'm now 67), I had a dog named Silver who followed me everywhere I went. He would go as far as the farm equipment repair business that my Dad co-owned with my Grandpa when I went to school, then go back home until it was time for me to get out of school. He would then go back to the shop and wait for me and walk me home.
One cold day I was playing alone in my sandbox and I had taken off the wool scarf that I was made to wear. A strange dog came along, took my scarf and ran off.
Silver chased him and came home an hour or so later -- with my scarf, which was all torn and ripped up.
- Judy Cook Williams
by Jezzie Brownie (posted on the Our Place to Paws Facebook group discussion board)
We used to have a big black Alsatian named Java. I've told a few stories about the big animal.... but not all of them. There were times when that big black, fluffy monster would do the darnedest things that never failed to make us laugh. I can remember one time, long ago, when Java, the little pig he was, got into our picnic lunch.
My mom moved about the kitchen with a quiet grace. I sat on the cedar desk in our kitchen that lay under the window, watching her, my legs swinging. Once, in her preparation for that lunch, she turned to me and gave me a smile. "Jess, would you like to help me make some peanut butter sandwiches for your picnic outside?"
I smiled back and stood. "Yup."
So I set to work, slathering peanut butter and jelly on countless pieces of bread. Each one was placed on a small tin disposable platter. Mom made iced tea and chocolate chip cookies, pouring the rich golden tea into a pitcher. She poured scoopfuls of ice into it. When we had finished I pulled the large tin platter into my arms and staggered out the door, and my mom followed.
We walked off of the porch and out to the picnic table in our backyard, and I set the food down there. Mom arranged it prettily there and walked inside to get something else.
The boys were out in the soccer corral playing football, and I raced to play with them. Time passed, about fifteen minutes, and then mom called us in to eat. We were walking towards the picnic table when suddenly I stopped in my tracks. Our black dog was on the seat of the table, and I was too amazed to move. The Alsatian grabbed the tin platter in his three front teeth and gingerly pulled it to him. And then with a loud crash, platter and black dog came careening toward earth.
Mom rushed from the house, and the boys burst out laughing. Java was seated among the peanut butter sandwiches, munching gratefully on his lunch.
Needless to say, we ate lunch INSIDE on our dining room table, and it consisted of cookies and tea.
From Facebook Group
It was in the late summer when the heat made shimmering waves across the sky. A car pulled into our driveway and the dogs took out after it with a barrage of barking. Julie brown came from the house wiping her hands on a towel and she smiled when she saw that the person in the car was one of our next door neighbors, Bear was his name. Parking the car he opened the door and patted both the dogs on the head.
The dogs were named Mocha and Java; Java was a black Alsatian German Shepherd and Mocha was a tan shepherd with a black saddle over her back. Bear climbed out of the car with a grin and left the door open to quickly go up to hug Julie Brown. Then with a bigger and brighter smile he said, "I brought you a cake." Turning he suddenly stopped in his tracks.
Java was sitting in the drivers' seat of Bear's car, his tail wagging furiously, and his face was adjourned with cake frosting with little bits dropping from his jowls.
For a moment Bear stood there almost paralyzed, and then Julie gave a kind of muffled laugh and Bear turned, seeing tears of laughter streaming down Julie's face. Bear grinned suddenly and shrugged. "Never mind."
From Facebook Group
When I moved in my place about 9 years ago, I had and still have several cats. Well, I hadn't even met my new neighbors or anything. I got up early one morning around 6 a.m. to let the dog out. I heard one of the cats meowing wanting in, I opened the door and she ran in with a "live" mouse in her mouth. I chased her through the house, caught her still with the mouse in her mouth, and thought I would just open the door and put them both out..Well, when I opened the door, the squeeking of the door startled the cat and she dropped the mouse out of her mouth, it landed IN MY HAIR! so I was at the front door, screaming and shaking my hair all over the place...looked up and my neighbor was looking at me, like "what kind of crazy lady moved in here?" Needless to say the mouse took off, cat went after it, and I remained emabarrased for quite some time.
The Story of Paws (Part 2)
By Temma O’Connor
I opened my eyes and everything was dark. I was confused for a second, then remembered what happened when I snuck out of my house. But, where was I?
I got up and stretched my front paws forward. They hit something hard. To investigate, I walked forward. Too far. My nose hit something cold and hard. It was in a kind if web form. I skitted back at the sudden coldness. But my hind paws hit the same cold, hard stuff.
My eyes finally adjusted to the light. All around me was a dull silver webbing. I suddenly realized where I was. I was in a cage! I noticed that there were other cages, all lined up, stacked on top of each other. I looked out of my cage, down the long rows of cages. Somewhere in the darkness, I heard a dog bark.
Suddenly, a light was turned on and I was blinded for a moment. My eyes adjusted and I could see everything. There were many other cats (and dogs) in cages. There were so many cages, so many animals. A human walked in and another after him. They held bags in their hands, big bags filled with….food! Hunger suddenly stabbed at my stomach. The humans opened the cages, one by one, filling the food bowls.
Eventually, one made his way down to my cage. He opened my cage door gruffly and took out my food bowl. Then he quickly filled it, closed my cage door, and moved on. I looked down at my food. It smelled bad, like the stuff my owners used to give me, until they found out I hated it.
I lapped up some pellets and slowly began to chew. The food tasted even worse than it smelled, worse than I remembered. Reluctantly, I swallowed, telling myself that it was food and I was hungry. I ate more and drank some water. I laid down and began to think.
The humans were done, so they turned off the light and went out the door. Darkness engulfed me as I thought. What will I do? How will I get back to my guardians?
Read More >>
Read Story From the Start >>
The Story of Paws
By Temma O’Connor
Chapter 1: Prologue
I had never wanted anything more than what I already had. Owners, food, treats, love. Everything was going so well, and I was happy. But that’s it. Was. Things just had to go wrong. Everything was stripped from me. Everything.
I was woken up one morning by a shaft of light coming from outside. I got up, stretched, and went over to my food bowl. After I had licked the remains of the chunky soup out of my bowl, I went upstairs to see what my owners were up to.
I am a kitten named Paws. For some reason, all humans seem to like kittens better than full-grown cats. When I was still very young, still drinking from my mother, I was told tales that the humans leave you to fend for yourself when you are full-grown. Of course, my mother assured me none of that was true.
My owners were still sleeping. I jumped on the bed to wait for them to wake up, but I actually woke them up in the process of jumping on the bed. John, the father of the family, turned over and petted me. “Hi, Paws,” he mumbled. “What? Paws?” Susan, the mother of the family, asked. “Ya, he’s right here,” John answered, although Susan’s asked her question to no one in particular.
Read More >>
By Nicole in California
Cats and dogs. whats not to love, they are furry, cuddly,and cute and what not.They play, they speak in different ways ,show their kindness every day.Sometimes dogs and cats are the only thing that understand you.Dogs and cats are very attaching,once you get one and raise one you want to get another new one.Thank God for cats and dogs or people would be so lonely they would soon fade off.
By Lacey White
Currently there are way too many feral cats being taken to shelters. The animals in the shelters can be adopted but only by a certain age. The animals that aren't adopted are killed. Feral cats are just as healthy and live the same amount of time as a socialized cats. They live just fine outside. Just because they aren't very calmed all the time doesn't mean they can't survive a life outside.
Another important thing to remember is that "catch and kill" doesn't work. The trap-neuter-release system does work.
To have your voice count go to alleycat.org
Simba the Cat
By Lacey White
I got my cat named Rascal from my friend, Amanda. She was a beautiful calico cat. Later she had seven adorable kittens;Tuffy,Tubby,Blackey,Chedder,Simba,Keara,and Calie.
One day, after feeding the cats, we left them to eat. Simba was the last one there finishing the last couple of pieces. Unfortunately, our dog loves the cat food and wanted it, so went after Simba and bit his poor little jaw. I was in my room with the door closed, my brother was at his friend's house, my dad was working in the yard near the place my dog and Simba were, and my mom was in her room. All you heard is my dog bark real loud, a cat whining, and my dad yelling, "HEY!" Then by the stains on the floor you could tell where Simba went off to, the corner of our
We took him to the vet and we found out his jaw was broken, the roof of his mouth was split, and his eye was so bad that it would be a very bad idea for his eye to remain there on Simba. He is doing fine though.
Later he was wandering outside for a while because he now had to live inside, but he did not come in that night. We looked for him, but could not find him. The next morning he was lying by our front door and had been kicked so hard by a horse, he broke his ball joint and it had to be removed by the vet.
Then, a couple of weeks ago when we got back from vacation, Tuffy, Simba's brother that I told you about, tackled him and left him with an abscess. The vet operated on him and in the end he wound up with stitches. His fur on his back is not fully grown back yet.
So that is Simba's story. We are proud owners of a one-eyed, one-hipped, shaved-back cat, but he is one of the best cats you could ever ask for.
THE CHARM OF CATS
by Petra (DesPres) Beel
Cats are lovable, soft bundles of fur
When they're happy, they like to purr
They sit on windowsills, to get warm
And curl up happy, in your arms.
They chase wild birds, and butterflies
And watch the antics, of spiders and flies.
Cats twist and turn, around your leg
They won't stop twistin', until you beg.
They love to be stroked, by soft hands
And play with string, and rubberbands.
When cats are bored, they hunt for mice
Without trying, they add joy to your life.
Cats are a comfort, if you're in pain
They warm your heart, with nothing to gain.
They're soft, and cuddly, and never mad
There's nothing as charming, as a cat.
AN ALL-WEATHER FRIEND
by Petra (DesPres) Beel
A dog is a loving, all-weather friend
A companion for ladies, a pal for men
He warms your heart, and sits on your lap
And lays by you, when you take a nap.
He lifts your spirits, when you are sad.
And wags his tail, when you are glad.
He expects no reward, for doing well
And will sit with you, to rest a spell.
He likes to play ball, with the kids
And gives, everyone, a big, wet kiss.
Dogs have a knack for sensing trouble
They can save a life, on the double
For his master, a dog will do all he can.
Dog, an all-weather friend, for man.
April Essay Winner
Rudy and the Next Door Neighbor
Many years ago we owned a big orange and white cat named Rudy. He was a gentle giant with a laid back personality.
Our neighbor directly across the street was a woman in her eighties who lived alone. In those days we allowed our cats unsupervised access to the outdoors, something I would no longer consider. Our neighbor was quite well, and in good weather she was often to be seen outdoors tending to her yard.
Rudy took to crossing the street and spending quality time with her. She would stop to rest frequently and chat with the cat. He appeared to listen intently and clearly enjoyed her company. We had several cats at the time, and this friendship was so sweet that one day I asked her if she would like to keep Rudy. She thanked me but declined. She said that at her age health was uncertain and she didn't think it was a good idea.
So Rudy continued to live with us and visit his pal across the street often. Who says that cats don't know when someone is lonely and needs a friend?
- Callie R., New York
March Essay Winner
For people who do not have human children, you will understand. I have a child named Lilla, she is 6 years old, 13 lbs, grey and white silky and cuddly. This is my daughter in every sense of the word. Tonight I came home from work and found her in desperate need of her Mom, me. She was crying in pain, which she has never, ever done.
Being the good Mom that I am, I rushed her to emergency room where I then found out she had been suffering with stones in her bladder. My baby could not pee and her bladder was like a balloon. For the first time she was not going to sleep on her Mom tonight and her Mom would not feel that little heartbeat on top of hers.
Lilla will have surgery tomorrow to remove the stones but she doesn't know this. She is sitting in a cage all alone with out anyone and doesn't know why. Her doctor told me that the surgery must be scheduled in a week or two so Lil would come home with special food to keep her peeing until they can remove the stones. I was worried about leaving her everyday to go to work, would I come home and find her like I did again? Possibly yes. Tonight her doctor called me to tell me that the stones were so large that she was going to do the surgery during her lunch hour so Lillla would not have to go home with the stones.
This is why a vet is a vet. The animal comes first and they put themselves second, when they can fit the rest in. She told me that I could come and sit with Lilla after the surgery while she wakes up. Of course I will bring her doctor lunch, and a great lunch at that!
So, my essay is not to say that cats are better than dogs, but to say that cats and dogs are as good (if not better, please no offense meant) as human children can be. To me there is no difference. If my human child had surgery I would be there when they came out of recovery as I will with my child Lilla, a 6 year old beautiful little girl who has brought my husband and I love each and everyday. May she come through a successful procedure with flying colors, and may she never spend another night away from her parents again.
Amy Z., Framingham, Massachusetts
Editor’s Note: We learned that Lilla came through her surgery fine and is coming home soon, and we wish her well!
January's Essay Winner
by Temma R.O., Benicia, California
Cats, in my opinion, are better than dogs. They are cuter and you don’t have to take them for a walk every day. I’ve really never had a dog, but most of my friends do. I’ve learned from my friends, and I think I like cats better.
What I love about cats the most is that they will cheer you up when you’re down. All you have to do is pet them. You can’t be sad when you are near them. But, you have to make sure they are happy too. When they’re not, cheer them up, give them a good home.
Cats are very fun animals to have around, but when they are gone it’s sad. I had a cat named Baby once. She was 18 years old, but she’s gone now. I don’t have a cat to play with anymore. Sure I could get a new one, but it won’t be the same.
Cats can have different attitudes, mean or nice, but always be kind to them, even if it’s not your cat. Deep down, all cats have their own niceness. You just have to find it. If you don’t have a cat, but meet one, don’t be mean to it, or it’ll be mean to you. Have fun with them, play with them, and you’ll have a great friendship.
December Essay Winner
A Vote for Kitties
I do like dogs very much, but I will forever be a true cat lover. When I was a child, I remember often visiting a dairy farm that belonged to one of my neighbors down the road. I was maybe ten years old at the time. I wandered around the farm and looked at all the cows, and my friend’s father showed us how the cows were milked.
There were a lot of cats in the barns, and they were given sprays of milk directly from the cows. One day I came across a tiny little kitten. He was grey, with long hair, white socks and a white triangle around his nose. I fell in love with him and asked my friend's parents if I could take him home. They had so many cats that they were happy to have me take him.
When we drove up to my house, I got out of the car and ran to the front door. I remember that my friend’s mom held the little kitten out the car window and showed it to my mom, and said that she'd be happy to take the cat back to the farm if my mom didn’t want it. But I begged my mom to let me keep it, and she did.
Coco lived with me for almost 13 years, and he was my very best friend. He was a real clown, and he and our other family cat, Rudi, ran all over the house playing with each other. Sometimes it sounded like a herd of elephants were trampling across the floor upstairs.
Since then I've had many other cats, and I've loved them all. Each one has had its own personality and has brought something special to my life. Like I said, I do like dogs, but for me, cats are where it's at.
S.B., upstate New York
November Essay Winner
Cats vs. Dogs? Don’t ask!
How can I choose between cats and dogs? Our house is over-run with both of them, and we love them all.
We currently have nine indoor cats in our home, and several that roam the woods around us but come to our porch at mealtimes. Before you wonder how we can let any of the cats outside, all of these cats are outdoor strays or feral cats who won't come through the door, but we make sure they're well-fed and have a warm place to curl up in our garage on cold winter nights. As a matter of a fact, all of our cats, indoor and out, are rescues, just like our dogs. A number of them curl up on the bed with us at night and help keep us warm, and I never get tired of their faces or their spirit, no matter how many trips to the vet we end up making to cure ear infections or other little problems.
How much do I love our dogs? Let me count the ways – and the dogs. There’s the sweet one we adopted from a rescue organization ourselves, when we laughably believed that we’d actually have only one dog. She follows me everywhere and is gentle with all of the other creatures who find us. Then there’s the puppy who was born to a stray that we picked up by the side of the road, pregnant and frightened, just before Christmas last year. We found the mom and her pups all homes after the pups were born and grown, except our guy, who we kept. The other two dogs we see daily are his brother and sister, who found a good home with a neighbor but still visit daily for doggy daycare. They’re all playful and fun, although I do spend much of my day answering calls for an outdoor break and a game of "fetch."
Cats vs. Dogs? Well, where would I start? I guess I'd use the old joke that goes something like this:
A hungry dog received food from a human and thought, "that human must be a god." A hungry cat received food from a human and thought, "I must be a god."
But you know, I love them both!
By Chris D., North Carolina
October Essay Winner
Go Cats! I love dogs but because of my busy schedule I decided I would get a cat until I can dedicate the time I'd like to spend with a dog. I am very happy with my decision because my Siamese cat Dupree is my "best friend.”
A lot of dog lovers tend to believe cats do not love you like dogs, which may be true for some but not mine. Dupree immediately comes out to greet me when I get home. He doesn't like people food so I never have to worry about him begging. If I cry he won't leave my lap for anything. When I'm away I know he's "cat napping" and he will forgive me. He loves to explore inside and outside and always comes when I call, amazing I know!
His favorite thing outside is long grass to jump in. We both love our sleep so we're a perfect pair! At night we share a pillow and I cover him up to his neck. Once and while he snores and has bad dreams so I wake him up and he'll do the same. A few nights ago I was having an awful dream when I was awoken by paws brushing my hair. My first reaction was that he was being a pest but I quickly realized he was saving me!
I've been through a lot in my life in the past 6 years I've had Dupree, I've moved, and had to take him on a few car rides....which again he amazed me because he rides very well. He likes the air from the vents better than the outside air and he'll rest his front paws on the doors and look out the passenger window.
He's a lot of fun to have around. He loves to play fetch....although it usually only lasts a couple of tosses. He also likes to pounce at me and hunch up like a Halloween cat, I let him know how scared I am and then I give him a big hug. His favorite toy is a white mouse and he always leaves it the same place. One day there was a real mouse (dead) in the spot. Maybe that's a good trick?
I think I may have answered some of Jamie F., North Carolina's questions about cats. I do agree that cats can take care of themselves but when it comes down to it I feel the same way about Dupree as he does for Alexander, in that I couldn't live without him and I don't think he could live without me.
Kim M K.
Why Dogs are Better
Dear Our Place to Paws:
I’d like to submit my brief essay explaining why I feel that Dogs should win the “Cats vs. Dogs” contest this month.
My dog, Alexander, is the most loving, loyal creature I’ve ever known. Ever since he was a puppy, he has loved me unconditionally. He follows me everywhere, and he’s such a good dog. He learned very quickly to sit, give his paw and even roll over on command.
Have you ever met a cat that would do that?
Don’t get me wrong, I like cats, but to me they seem to be very aloof. They don’t come running to greet you, they just stay where they are and let you go to them. They don’t follow you around, and they definitely don’t give you unconditional love, do they? I have a friend who has a cat, and it seems like her love is definitely tied to being fed.
Cats are great, and they have fun personalities, but dogs are something really special. It’s not a coincidence that dogs are called “People’s best friend.” Alexander has been my best friend since I adopted him from a shelter. I couldn’t live without him, and I don’t think he could live without me. He also gets me outside because I have to walk him everyday. Have you ever met a cat that really couldn’t live without a person, or who you can walk outside? I think they can pretty much take care of themselves. Again, they’re great, but they’re just not dogs.
Anyway, that’s my vote for dogs winning this contest. Thanks for listening!
Jamie F., North Carolina