There is new and compelling evidence to suggest that there are two distinct personality types living among us regular folk.
They are dog people and cat people. These types are marked not only by their overwhelming affection for the animal from which their name is derived, but also by their overwhelming disdain for their counterpart’s animal of choice.
For instance, dog people are likely to emblazon their pickup trucks with bumper stickers that state, “I Love Cats. They Taste Just Like Chicken.”
Cat people tend to be less overtly hostile, and are more likely to personify their pets rather than vilify dogs. They’re apt to say things like, “My cat did the cutest thing last night. We were watching TV together and he reached over with his little paw and rubbed my back. It was the cutest thing!”
Anthropologists surmise this dichotomy developed in pre-historic times. Though completely unqualified, I’ve decided to offer a possible scenario outlining the origins of this age-old enmity. Since there are no written records from that time, I will draw on my powers of deduction, my talent for discernment and my encyclopedic knowledge of Tom and Jerry cartoons to paint the scene:
Sun breaks over the horizon. It is pre-historic times, which explains why people are wearing animal skins and not Dacron or polyester. Young Olaf, son of Old Olaf, grandson of Real Old Olaf, and great-grandson of Dead Olaf, walks proudly with his dog, which is named Young Olaf’s Dog. It is a huge, wolf-like creature and is very useful on the hunt. For Young Olaf is a hunter, specializing in woolly mammoths though he occasionally branches out into mammoths that are clean-shaven or merely furry. Young Olaf is walking to the village to trade a mammoth tusk for some grain. He’s heard good things about the new village food called bread. Young Olaf’s plan is to bake two slices of bread so he can put a slice of mammoth in the middle and then await the invention of mayonnaise. He approaches the simple stone home of Tedro the Farmer, who had advertised a special on grain by having his wife, Mrs. Tedro the Farmer, run about the village yelling, “Tedro the Farmer’s got grain!” You can’t beat that kind of word of mouth, he told her. Mrs. Tedro the Farmer often longs wistfully for the invention of no-fault divorce. The Tedro the Farmers are village people. That is, they live in a village. They’re not members of the iconic ’70s singing group that gave us “In the Navy,” or “YMCA.” Young Olaf is slightly wary of dealing with village people. They sometimes try to deceive the hunter folk by selling them dirt instead of grain, though at reduced prices.
“Greetings, Tedro the Farmer,” Young Olaf greeted the farmer.
“Greetings, Young Olaf,” Tedro the Farmer responded. They quickly got down to haggling over the deal, finally settling on four handfuls of grain for the mammoth tusk. They went to the rear of Tedro the Farmer’s simple stone home to where he kept a heaping pile of grain. Near the grain stood Tedro the Farmer’s cat. Young Olaf’s Dog approached the animal and the pair sniffed each other warily.
“What’s that?” inquired Young Olaf.
“That’s my cat,” replied Tedro the Farmer. “His name is Mr. Dimples.”
“What use is it?”
“It is of great use. It keeps the mice and other rodents from disturbing my grain.”
“Well, I’ll tell you one thing,” Young Olaf responded. “Don’t try to hunt a woolly mammoth with it.”
Those seemingly innocent words rankled Tedro the Farmer, and became the source of the millennia of dog vs. cat people hostility.
And it didn’t help that Young Olaf’s dog ate Mr. Dimples.
Frank Mulligan is an editor in GateHouse Media New England’s Plymouth office, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. This is a classic column, not because it’s necessarily any good but because it appeared in a prior edition.