Why we love cats and dogs

May 21, 2010

in Righteous Reviews

Ian Rhodester

Ian Rhodester

I can’t tell you how much I miss this guy. I didn’t even realize it myself until last night.

This is Ian. He was my best friend for a short period of time and in a way, he still is.

I remember finding this one lone dog hair on my suit during a TV shoot a few years back. I don’t remember what the show was – I’d been booked as an extra, and it was not unlike any other show I’d been involved with.

I wore dress pants and a business shirt with a tie, because it was an office setting. I was just a guy making copies in the background and when they went to reset the scene, I sat down and experienced a moment that I’ll never forget.

Ian had been gone for about four months. He’d left suddenly one day, when I wasn’t home. Heart problem, the Vet said. Never saw it coming.

I had these suits I wore for doing the “background acting” gig, which is the technically correct term for “extra,” and do you know how hard it is to keep dark suit pants free of dog hair with a Sheltie around?

It’s impossible.

I’d always be finding some reminder of my old friend whenever I went to work, no matter how meticulously I rolled that hair removal thingy over the suit. After four months though, it was pretty clean. The pants had been to the Dry Cleaner a number of times since he passed, so there was no reason for a little gray hair to still be lingering.

But there it was, plain as day. I plucked it off and stared at it, and then the tears came. I had to leave the set because I didn’t want them see me in this state. Being a lowly extra, they didn’t miss me, they just did another take without me and I managed to sneak back in unnoticed after having composed myself.

That’s how much he meant to me.

I don’t easily trust people who say, “I’m not really a dog person.” That’s not to say they’re bad people, I just don’t warm up to them so quickly.

We went to this guy’s house once and he had three little pups he kept out on the back porch. I thought he’d put them out because we were having a meeting and he didn’t want us to be disturbed so I said, “Hey, no need to banish them to the yard.. I love dogs, let ‘em in!” But it turned out they weren’t allowed in, they’d “ruin the furniture.”

Geez man, it’s just furniture.

I’ve talked before of our blogging pals, Jim and Rene, and how they drop in on us whenever they come blowing through. They travel in a rig, and they used to travel with a swell furry fellow named Jerry, but Jerry has passed from us too. He and Ian are running around up there somewhere, leaving little hairs on clouds.

I guarantee Ian’s leaving more hair than Jerry.

PBS produced a documentary called “Why we love cats and dogs,” which is about the bond between people and their animals. Jim, Rene and Jerry are prominently featured in two segments of the hour long program and it’s available to stream for free at the PBS website.

Jim Rene and Jerry

Jim, Rene and Jerry on the beach

The show looks at how we interact with cats and dogs, and explores the odd psychological glue that binds us with our furry kids, and what makes them so special to us.

It got me to thinking of Ian and his predecessors.. Rufus, Bear, Goofus, Belle and Dopey. Oh, and there was Pancho too.. he was a little long-haired Mexican Chihuahua.

Mean little cuss, but I loved him anyway.

It’s a fascinating bond. There’s a scene where Jim has taken a mouth full of water from a drinking fountain and is spitting it upward so Jerry can lap at it. Jim and I are friends, but I don’t think I’d lap at his stream.

But dogs don’t care about silly things like convention or how things look to people.

We’ve had cats too. We currently have two cats and we’ve had past cats. We have no dogs at the moment. Yes, I sound like a person who works at a small pet store.

This is Tazzy..

Tazzy Kitty

Tazzy Kitty

Coffeesister, aka my wife Dorian, swears that this little guy was a fluffy angel sent from heaven to guide her through deep despair. I think she’s right.

He left us too and, just like Ian, it was way sooner than it should have been. He was a kind-hearted, warm and considerate little soul in a tiny package of fur.

Another similarity to Ian is that he left a lot of that fur behind and, in a bit of similarity to me, Dorian will spontaneously burst into tears should she finds a tiny orange hair stuck to a pillow.

They have some kind of brilliant magic, these fur-people, and they use it to make us better. They manufacture memories and leave us with life lessons. Jerry helped Jim and Rene grow spiritually, and Ian helped me grow up.

Tazzy was a comfort and companion to Dorian when she most needed it. His timing was impeccable.

I think you’ll like the PBS show about cats and dogs. It’s nothing deep or scientific, it just kind of looks at the relationship between us and them and says, “Huh, how about that!”

Why we love cats and dogs” at PBS.ORG

Interview with Rene about Jerry

Tripawds – Jim and Rene’s website dedicated to canine cancer victims.

Live.Work.DreamJim and Rene’s blog about life on the road.

In Palm Springs

Dorian, Dave, Jim, Rene and Jerry in Palm Springs

Tell the WORLD..
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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Scott February 16, 2009 at 12:27 pm

Growing up was hard for me because I was definitely an animal person in a non-animal loving family. I had pets growing up, but it was always disastrous because my parents weren’t involved.

We have three lovely dogs, an awesome cat, and a rabbit and love our furred friends. I have shed tears and laughed uproariously (it’s a word, ‘kay?) at their antics and issues.

I’ll try and check this show out.

Scott´s brilliant babbling..Short Story Anthology

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2 RhodesTer February 16, 2009 at 12:32 pm

Thanks Scott! PLUS.. Jim and Rene are a must-follow on Twitter as they bounce around the country – http://twitter.com/LiveWorkDream/ – and their blogs can be found at http://www.liveworkdream.com/ and http://www.tripawds.com/progress/

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3 Jim February 16, 2009 at 1:06 pm

You had me at “lone dog hair” … can totally relate. Thanks for the outstanding review. We’re honored that you got to meet our furry kid.

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4 RhodesTer February 16, 2009 at 1:08 pm

Not so much a review as it was a ponderation, though. Is that a word? But sure.. you’re welcome. It was an honor to meet Jerry.

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5 Rene February 16, 2009 at 1:43 pm

Dave, your writing just keeps getting better and better. Thank you for the beautiful story about Ian, I wish we could have met him. What a beautiful boy.

And Tazzie too, I know how special he was to Coffeesister. When you lost him, it was so sad. But I honestly had no idea of the depth of hurt that one can feel when losing a pet. Jerry was our first. I was clueless about grieving for these kids, until Jerry left us. Then I understood.

Our animals leave us far too soon, and it’s up to us to open our eyes and take advantage of the lessons they have to teach us in that brief period of time when they own us. When people open their hearts and minds up to our fur kids, the world becomes a better place, a little bit at a time. I hope more people will do it thanks to the Nature show.

I swear that if there’s a god, she is a Dog.

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6 Joely Black February 16, 2009 at 2:47 pm

I love dogs. I really do. And cats. And animals generally. I used to have a theory about cat men and dog men and which I’d prefer but when I dated my ex, he had a cat and I adored him, so…

I had a rat. No kidding. Avatar, his name was. I kept him illegally on campus during one of the hardest times of my life. He used to sit with me when I was going through really bad depressive bouts, and rode around the place on my shoulder. If anybody gave him a funny look he’d just sniff and say, “So what? I’m A RAT!”

He did crazy things like make big plans to get on top of my fridge. Once he leaped off a table into a fish bowl. And then there was the whole thing about the bread roll and the sofa and the plant pot. *Sigh*

Animals are very, very special.

Joely Black´s brilliant babbling..What’s really great is when you actually know what your block is all about

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7 RhodesTer February 16, 2009 at 2:49 pm

Rene, are you the proverbial dyslexic atheist who doesn’t believe in Dog?

As sure as I am that Jerry and Ian are having a great time now, I’m afraid that Ian wouldn’t have taken kindly to him down here. The story about the actress is true – I had to be mindful of other dogs in the vicinity during our walks, which made those daily excursions a challenge.

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8 RhodesTer February 16, 2009 at 2:55 pm

Joely, I can top you. Coffeesister, aka Dorian, used to have a rat named Basia and not only that, we have a friend who runs a – are you ready? – RAT RESCUE. No kidding. A rat rescue. Like a dog or cat rescue, but.. you know..

It’s safe to say that she’s an animal person.

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9 Dorian aka coffeesister |_|) February 17, 2009 at 1:43 am

Just like human-people, each fur-person has a role to play & purpose to fulfill. As René said, we just need to be open to it. Jerry was a joy to meet & I definitely live by his motto, “It’s better to hop on 3 legs than limp on 4.” This marvelous episode of ‘Nature’ was particularly poignant for it coincided w/the 1st anniversary of Tazzy’s death. If you haven’t met my dearly departed Taz, please do.. I need to be kneaded =^@.@^=

Meanwhile, here are a few clarifications:
Morena Baccarin is gorgeous.
Uproariously’s not only a word but a common one.
Ponderation’s a word too but not as common.
Rats absolutely rock; I love rodents & reptiles.
My snake, who’s immortalized on my ankle, was named Moses.
Lorie rescues mice, guinea pigs & rabbits too but mostly rats.
I admittedly judge people — by how they treat animals.

(|_|*cheers*|_|)
“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” ~ Anatole France

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10 Darrell February 18, 2009 at 3:58 pm

I love you, man.

Darrell´s brilliant babbling..Spectre Of Victory Banished From White House

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11 RhodesTer February 18, 2009 at 4:05 pm

That makes two of us. Darrell, would you lap at my stream?

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12 Lorna February 20, 2009 at 5:11 am

Well, if I weren’t a dog person, and I’m, not, I wouldn’t admit it. I am actually a Morena Whats-her-name person—isn’t she from “Firefly”?

Lorna´s brilliant babbling..England (or at least one English person) Thinks You Don’t Read

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13 RhodesTer February 20, 2009 at 1:51 pm

She is.. Inara.. I thought I told you that story before? She lived in our building in Sherman Oaks, but moved out shortly after Firefly debuted.

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14 A. Lewis May 23, 2010 at 10:10 am

Oh boy. I’ll bet that every single one “of us” has a story. You know, the “us” that gets this story — really understands this story. I’ve put it on my Facebook page for today and will definitely be watching for it tonight on PBS. Ten years ago? Me? Couldn’t stand the thought of an animal near me, in the house, etc….ICK. Today? Well, the tears in my eyes should be the tell-tale sign. Excuse me, please…I’ve got to go and give Mason ANOTHER kiss on the head.

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15 RhodesTer May 23, 2010 at 11:07 am

Thanks, and give Mason a pat on the head from all of us, eh?

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16 A. Lewis May 23, 2010 at 11:39 am

I think you’ll see in my blog post today what an impact your article made on me:

http://spiritofsaintlewis.blogspot.com/2010/05/old-dog-learns-new-tricks.html

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17 RhodesTer May 23, 2010 at 12:18 pm

Awesome! Sentience is everything. As I commented on your post, it’s not too weird to talk to a dog, yet it’d be pretty strange to be caught talking to a sofa. Yet lots of people kick their dogs off their sofas.

If you catch that show this evening, check out Jim, Rene and Jerry’s segments and go to their blog as linked at the end of this post. I thought I was a “dog person” until I met Jim and Rene. They’re like the dog people from hell, only some kind of nice hell where pets run free and there’s no devil, just a guy walking around with a pooper-scooper.

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18 Rene May 23, 2010 at 1:32 pm

Awww Dave, we’re blushing here. Thank you for spreading the word about the show tonight, and for introducing us to the likes of A. Lewis. We pack animals have to stick together, don’t we?

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19 RhodesTer May 23, 2010 at 2:00 pm

I don’t know how Lewis found me, I guess it was from the FB link I put up. Just when I started to think only longtime friends pay any attention.

Blush away, you’ve earned it. At least no one will see you up in that isolation. Three cars, was it, and one of them was the same car twice?

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