My friends think I’m kidding when I say, “I love all horses, some dogs, and no cats.” I don’t know why because it’s true. I could care less if you’ve got a pure-bred, thoroughbred, or a non-descript grade horse, I’m already thinking about petting him, feeding him an apple or a carrot, and taking him for a ride. Clydesdale or Shetland pony, shaggy or neat, I don’t mind.
Dogs are a little different, for the “some” dogs I like are sporting breeds. Who doesn’t like a golden or a Lab or a Chessie; they’re all fine. Springers are good, as are shorthairs and wirehairs. I saw a Munsterlander once that looked like a cross between a setter and a shorthair, and it was pretty cool. I like ’em all, just no small dogs or purposeless dogs for me.
When I narrow down dogs to those I’d put in my kennel it gets a bit more complicated. I suffer from the disease of Breed Myopia, which means that if it ain’t a setter it ain’t going in my kennel. I grew up with Irish and Gordons are OK, but mine need to be English.
I’m softening up on that stance as I get older, and I’m looking around for a pointer. My wife fell for an English cocker, but this one doesn’t count; the flushing dog really looks like a miniature setter. But if I were hunting for the balance of a life-or-death decision, I’d be happy with a sporting dog or a drop if it were any good. Just no others, please, and Taco Bell can keep all the Chihuahuas they want.
I never have cottoned much to cats. They do what, when, and how they want. They are loyal only to themselves.
I grew to despise cats when I rented an apartment with a common area. The lady down the hall had five cats, all different breeds, and one tomcat. One day I came back from duck hunting and my waders were wet. I hung ’em outside my door to dry, and I started smelling this awful, dank, musty aroma from the door. The virile tom sprayed that wretched smell all over my boots.
I went inside to get a broom and he came back and sprayed ’em again. I was ready and swatted his butt good. I don’t play golf, but let’s just say that if I were teeing off I’d have driven that ball over 400 yards. Maybe even over 500 yards …
One day my wife was going to run our four setters and asked me if I wanted to tag along. It was a gorgeous spring day with bright blue skies and a soft breeze, so I said, “Sure.” I could hear a few whistling quail and figured we might get a point or two. Angela cut the dogs loose and away we went.
We didn’t find any birds, but as we came around the backside of the broomstraw and pines we saw a woman. She had neat, gray hair, was maybe in her late 50s or early 60s, and was fit as a fiddle. Evidently she was going for her daily walk, and who could blame her on a beautiful day like that.
Angela whistled the dogs to cast to the left so we could avoid her, but as they came around they saw the woman and went right over to her. Suddenly the woman flailed her arms and screamed. The dogs trotted up to her, wagging their tails and hoping to be petted.
“Get out of here! Miserable mutts!”
Them’s fighting words right there, especially ’cause our dogs all come from good families and are the furthest thing from a mutt. But I noticed she had an accent, and an English one at that.
“Sorry, ma’am,” I said. “These dogs are friendly. They just want a little love is all.”
“I don’t care,” she said. “I hate dogs.”
“Well,” I said, “that may be true, but you have to at least like these dogs.”
“Why is that?”
I looked over at my wife. Her forehead wrinkles a bit when she gets that particular look. “I noticed your accent, and it sounds like you’re from England. I suspect you’ll like our dogs because they’re English setters.”
She looked grim. “I have lived in the States for 30 years. Now I hate them even more.”
All horses, some dogs, and no cats. It’s always good to have options.
Photo via iStock