A cartoon showing the difference between cats and dogs keeps cropping up on Facebook. I smile every time I see it because it is so accurate. My imagination even animates it sometimes and extends the conversation. The picture shows a cat and a dog in the back of the family car. In my animated version, the dog dashes back and forth across the back seat, sticking his head out of the windows, letting his ears flap in the wind, drooling with excitement, and barking, “We’re going for a ride! A car ride! Oh, what great fun! Go faster! Where are we going, huh, huh, huh?” The cat stands on her hind legs, terrified, claws firmly implanted in the upholstery, pupils wide, and howling, “Stop! Stop now! We’re all going to die!”
The cartoon is funnier when you realize that people are just like cats and dogs. Some love change. They eagerly set out to try something new, looking for adventure, knowing that there’s a pot of gold just around the next corner, never looking back. They are just like their doggy friends. And some people are cats. They hate change. They look backward at the known and familiar with longing for the good old days. They won’t try anything new, ignore the latest technology as a fad, and sing a constant refrain of, “That’s not the way we’ve always done things.”
But don’t misunderstand me. This difference has nothing to do with whether a person has a dog or a cat as a pet. It’s all about how one looks at the world. Often, a person’s pet balances the owner’s temperament rather than reflecting it. I’m definitely a dog when it comes to change, but I have a houseful of cats. And I know a lot of dog-owners who are positively cat-like in their clinging to the past.
This afternoon I am facing an important meeting. As the newly elected president of a four-state charitable organization that provides eye care to the needy, I’m going to have to answer the question of how we pay for treatment for our ever-increasing client load. I look at our current practices and see that we’ve been using the same fund-raising techniques for the past twenty years, with ever-decreasing results. I may be an old dog, but I’m still bouncing around in the back seat, barking in delight if we are heading somewhere new. Several younger pups in the group are going to agree with me, and we’ll set up a chorus of “Yips.” But the cats in the group--those who have been around for all of those twenty years—are going to be yowling, “Stop! We’re all going to die!”
It promises to be a cat and dog fight.