RHYS: We at Jungle Red are having an ongoing debate about what attracts readers to a blog--whether they like to be informed, entertained, learn about us,or.....
One fact that stuck with me was that whenever we post a picture of a cat, we draw lots of people to our site. Clearly cats and books go together. How many bookstores have a store cat? I suppose it's the cozy image of an armchair, a fire, a good book and a cat curled up at our feet that signifies contentment. (Oh, and maybe some chocolate to finish the picture)
But on this book tour I've had time to think and I've decided that all humans can be divided into cat people and dog people. I don't just mean which animal they prefer in their lives, I mean in temperament.
Cat people are essentially independent loners. They make their own decisions. They see themselves as at the center of their universe and turn to others when they want love, help, information etc. (As our cats do). When they don't have urgent needs, they choose to be alone. They don't need others to make their lives complete.
Dog people are the pack animals. They are not happy unless they're with people. They like to bounce ideas off others before making up their minds. Their ideal happiness is a big table with all the family around it. They need praise to reassure them.
So--are more cat people than dog people necessarily book readers? Mystery readers? I realize as I write this that I'm an absolute dog person--need people, love noisy gatherings, certainly need praise and reassurance.
So which are you?
HANK: Oh, cat. I fear. We had lovely dogs growning up--Rusty, Penny and Roderick St. John, all Irish Setters. (Were we clever namers, or what?) A Puli named Maggie. And two English cockers, Bailey and Barkley. (We also had a white cat, Rosemary, and her babies, F. Scott and Zelda. We were older then, and thought of cooler names.)
But as an adult, I have never had a dog--oh, wait, yes, in the 80's when I lived in Atlanta, I had an adorable beagle named McGee. (Arooo!) When I broke up with Jim, I got the house and Jim got McGee.
When I lived by myself, I had my wonderful cats Lola (who died at age 20) and Leon (at 14). They lived together for 14 years, and never acknowledged each others' existence. Proving Rhys' point. They were dear dear pets, and I still think about Lola, who talks to me in my dreams. Yes, she does.
Put me down for cats. Why does that feel un-cool?
ROBERTA: Hank, you are not capable of being uncool! I think I have a split pet personality. We had both cats and dogs growing up. Completely untrained German shepherds named Schatzie (sweetheart in German) and Wolf. Not not not a good idea to have an animal that large who answers to no one. I could tell you a million stories that were not funny at the time but are now hysterical. Just one involved a neighbor trying to break up a dog fight with a two by four and hitting my sister's arm instead--she was getting married later that day. Oh, then there was the time my father and I had to go to court (another neighbor) because Wolfie grabbed a little yapper by the throat and shook him until he was dizzy for weeks. In fairness, the little dog was annoying him to death.
Our cats never caused much trouble. Oh wait, what about the time Tigger fell into a vat of oil and showed up outside my parents' window howling. They tried to chase him away, thinking he was a black stray. We also had Puddy Tat (I know, save me), and then later Gabriel, Jack, Suitcase the Terrible, Chuck, and Tipper.
We have both a dog and a cat now, but you are right Rhys--the dog is completely social (ask Hallie)--he wants to be with me every minute. The cat appears at mealtimes, though I do insist he watch the news with the family. I have a little bit of both in me....
(this is a picture of Tonka and Yoda--Roberta's pets)
JAN: The thing about dogs is the unconditional love. More people should be like dogs. But I'm afraid I'm not one of them., I don't achieve the selflessness of a dog. Blind devotion isn't my thing. But since I'm allergic to cats I'm afraid I don't know them very well. I know I'm not a bird though. I had a bird for nine years and it was a spiteful animal. And loud. Very, very loud.
HALLIE: I'm not a pet person, though I feel some fond aunt-ship of Roberta's wonderful dog and cat. Never had a pet myself, unless you count short-lived turtles and goldfish and a memorable baby duck -- except for 2 years when my husband and I lived in Manhattan and acquired one, then two, and finally up to four cats. It's easy to acquire them in Manhattan when you do your laundry in the basement. Then I ended up hospitalized with bronchial pneumonia and the cats were sadly give away.
If I WERE a pet person, I'd definitely be a cat person. They purr in your ear and are otherwise low maintenance. I would hope that's how my husband would describe me.
ROSEMARY: Well...who knew that Rosemary was a cool name. Continuing the feeling that Hank and I are kindred spirits, I also had a cat named Leon. And another that my mother named Tommy because he was deaf and also pretty dumb. Mercifully he wasn't blind.
I cat-sat for a friend's cat for two years when she went away to school...then she came home and wanted her cat back. I couldn't believe it. That was the unfortunately named Running Fox (which I shortened to Foxy, since I was not an Indian princess and couldn't say the name with a straight face.) He went back to her as if I didn't even exist. He was my last cat.
Once I stopped working full-time I thought, yippee, I can get a dog. My current pooch is named Max and no child could be more adored in the Harris household. BTW...we got him from Yankee Golden Retriever rescue in Hudson, MA and they do a wonderful job finding homes for their charges. We even had an in-home interview.
RHYS: We are (alas) petless now as we travel so much, but I get my dog fix with Sonny and Oscar, my daughters' dogs. We had a fabulous cat called Marmalade while the kids were growing up. Plus a completely hopeless English setter called St. John (pronounced Sinjun) I called the dog that to preemp my husband from naming one of our kids that--yes, I know, awful.
But as to people, I rather suspect that most writers are cat-people--loners, observers.
What do you think? More cat people than dog people out there?