Attention, Internet: Dogs Are the Best

(Sorry, cats.)

Illustration by Caitlin

I have been on the internet since the glorious days of puberty, when my family got its first dial-up modem. In that time, I have learned a few things about it: You can download music for free. People really enjoy fighting. And finally, the internet is absolutely besieged by pictures of cats. Does a free digital camera come with cats? Because the first and only thing anybody does with their cats is take pictures of them and put them on the internet. I mean, maybe people do other things with their cats. Who knows? We don’t have documentation!

I think it’s fair to say that dogs are widely understood to be the superior pet. That they haven’t gotten their share of internet acclaim is a travesty, and yet entirely understandable. Though dogs will provide the occasional meme, they are far more suited to real life. Cats are to be looked at, and after you are done looking, they will let you pet them, maybe, if they’re in the mood. But a dog is a creature that is designed for interaction.

I need to say: I have nothing against cats! I used to have two of them. Their names were Cordelia and Wesley, because I am the biggest nerd in the world, and I watch a lot of TV. From what I hear, they now live in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, with two other cats, and they are very happy, and have not yet requested any therapy due to my breakup with their owner. Still, at a certain point in my life, I became a dog person. I have two of those now: Hektor and Peggy Olsen the Dog. (I still watch a lot of TV.) And I believe every girl needs, at least once in her life, to have a dog.

I got Hektor at a time when I was not feeling so great about myself. I was in the “William H. Macy in Magnolia” stage of my personal development: I had so much love to give! And yet I was going to die alone! I was worried that I was becoming self-involved and solitary, and I wanted to prove that I could make another living thing happy. Hektor was big and clumsy and sort of permanently happy, so that helped. Before he even knew me, he launched his whole body at my face and started licking it, so I figured half of my work was already done. I had done research into dogs, mostly by looking at different breeds to find which ones were listed as “affectionate,” “easy to train,” and, most important, “lazy.” Hektor was a cross between an English bulldog and Boston terrier, and he promised to fit those qualifications.

He turned out to be the best dog I ever met—nay, the best dog in the world! He was gentle and sweet—so gentle that, when I got a dog one-quarter of his size to keep him company, she routinely beat him up—and yet big and ugly enough to make me feel safe walking down the street at night. His interests included eating, napping, and showing you the toy that he has in his mouth so as to make you jealous, but not actually letting you ever play with it, ever. He was so intensely loyal and devoted that he could actually read my moods. If I were to sit on the couch, staring into space, contemplating the fact that I was broke or that some people on the internet didn’t love every word I wrote, there he was, showing me the toy, to distract me. Hektor proved to me that I could take care of something other than myself at a time when I wasn’t even sure I could take care of myself.

Cats are very self-confident creatures: they don’t need to like you, and they don’t necessarily need you to like them, either. They’ll take care of their business in a litter box and clean themselves. Other pets are even more low-key: birds stick to cages, hamsters to their little plastic tubes, fish to their aquariums. Turtles (the pets for people who don’t like having pets) actually dislike being touched so much that they might give you salmonella, just for the heck of it, if you pick them up.

But a dog is a high-maintenance pet. This is often cited as a bad thing. When I asked my mother what it was like to have a baby, just in case I might want to do that, she said, “It’s like having a puppy that gradually learns to talk.” (Thanks, Mom!) And getting a puppy, conversely, is like having a baby that never grows up. They need assistance in the bathroom department. They need you to tell them what not to put in their mouths. (My childhood dog, Katie, would raid our kitchen cabinets for chocolate, which she loved, and which is also dog poison. We had to get her stomach pumped more than once.) When you have a dog, you can’t skip town without getting a sitter, and they think making a mess out of your house is great fun. I’ve lost several outfits to their whims.

But I think this is great! Especially if, like me, you are normally an introspective, live-in-your-head sort of person. A dog is very vocal about what it needs. If you don’t take it out, you will get pee on your carpet. (Before I’d learned to take Hektor out at the right intervals, and had thus displeased him, I found some tactfully placed urine on my bed.) If you don’t feed them in a timely fashion, they will bark. If you don’t play, they will make you play. Mine prefer to announce when playtime starts by bringing toys over and thwacking me on the leg with them. This sounds annoying. But it taught me to open myself up to needs that are not my own. And nothing I am reading about on the internet is more important than making sure my house is not filled with poo.

And on that note, I became much more matter-of-fact about poo, having a dog. I used to not be able to type the word poo. Now it features in many of my conversations: Should the dogs go out to poo? Did the dogs poo? Do we need more plastic bags with which to handle the poo? That is a part of my day: handling poo. And it’s healthy! Before I had a dog, I could get so consumed by my own private dramas and feelings and life that I completely cut off from the real world and the people around me. So I guess you could say that having to deal with the products of another being’s butt keeps me from taking quite so many trips up my own.

This is why I remain deeply suspicious of people who don’t want a pet. People who have animals, and can care for them, are proving to me, an extremely judgmental person, that they enjoy caring about something that can’t do them favors. This isn’t to say that all human relationships are about strategic alliances, though lots of them are. They’re just not about giving unconditional care, which I think is a quality one has to develop at some point, if only to get over being quite so self-involved. No matter how smart your dog is, it will never be able to write your English final for you, nor can your adorable kitty cook you dinner. All it will ever do is love you. If that sounds like a raw deal to you, I don’t quite trust you.

Which brings me to another point about dogs: they will show you, if you don’t already know yet, what love looks like. Dogs, various scientists estimate, have been with us since Caveman Times, when those wolves that weren’t very good at/interested in being predators used to come by for scraps of our food. (Not coincidentally, noticing when you have food, and convincing you to give them some, is still the number-one skill of dogs everywhere.) Gradually, we adopted these nicer wolves as partners, and bred them into different varieties of shape, size, and personality. Wolves are hierarchical animals—like furry little office temps, they always want to know who is in charge and how to make them happy. Dogs have kept that basic personality trait. But we made them even more dependent, and less fierce, so that they wouldn’t bite off our faces the moment they sensed weakness. The result of all this is one of the most empathetic domestic animals in the world, something that has been trained for millennia to read your moods, and wants nothing more than for your mood to be good.

Because humans are occasionally terrible, this has led to tragedies. For example, people are very scared of pit bulls, which are dogs that are frequently bred to fight and sometimes kill other dogs. But here’s the thing: the reason that pit bulls fight other dogs is that they have actually been bred to be intensely trusting, needy, obedient animals that will do anything, even risk their own lives, if their owners ask them to. All of the dogs that die in dog-fighting rings die to make their owners happy. Which is to say that you should almost never be afraid of a dog, but you should be afraid, in some cases, of a dog’s owner, who may have raised the dog to be mean.

Another thing a dog can teach you: self-confidence. Self-confidence is a tricky thing to nail down, but as far as I have figured out in my lifetime, it comes to this: the more you do, the more you believe that you can do. Dogs are not superficial animals. They may criticize your taste in music if it tends toward the high-pitched and howl-inducing—unlike reasonable people, dogs are not Marnie Stern fans—but that’s as far as their intolerance goes. If you take care of your dog, it will love you, deeply and truly. And by this I don’t mean that you should bring a dog into the house to have something that loves you. In fact, don’t do that! I mean, you can learn how to love something in a way that’s nurturing and unconditional, and how to accept the love of another creature in return.

I don’t think it’s a mistake or a coincidence that I became much better at understanding people after I got my dogs. Without being too cutesy, all of these lessons apply to people, too. Things work out better if you can care for people without primarily thinking about what’s in it for you. And the vast majority of the time, if you genuinely put yourself into caring about people, they will respond by liking you.

And if they don’t, you can talk to your dog about it. Hektor finds my monologues about jerks to be FASCINATING. Especially if I am holding a toy. ♦


  • Blythe October 23rd, 2012 7:11 PM

    You named your cats Wesley and Cordelia? You perfect human being. They were my two favorite characters on Angel. :)

  • Tyknos93 October 23rd, 2012 7:12 PM

    Dogs are simply awesome no one believes me. Just look at all the old movies about dogs; Lady and the Tramp, Lassie, My Dog Skip, The SANDLOT!, Wilson…
    I miss my dog so much.

    • Tyknos93 October 23rd, 2012 9:33 PM

      oh god I meant Wilfred…

  • Abby October 23rd, 2012 7:15 PM

    I’ve always had cats, and I love them… the thing about dogs is, I like them better when they’re not my own. They’re kind of like babies. They’re more fun when you’re… like a grandma or a friend of the mother’s, because you can play with them and have fun but then when they poop or cry you can give them back. That’s why I think about having a dog a lot but probably will never get one, because they’re a lot more fun when you’re not responsible for them haha. On the other hand, I do want babies of my own someday. Anyway, I don’t mean to ditch on dogs, because I do like them… I’m just too lazy to take care of them lol.

    • starsinyourheart October 24th, 2012 1:06 PM

      THIS IS ME. i’m too lazy. also dogs are clingy.

  • starpower October 23rd, 2012 7:15 PM

    Dogs are the best.
    I want a dog.

  • kendallakwia October 23rd, 2012 7:17 PM


  • Krista October 23rd, 2012 7:25 PM


  • Krista October 23rd, 2012 7:26 PM

    hahahaha @kendallakwia we posted that at the SAME TIME!

  • puffling October 23rd, 2012 7:31 PM

    This is a really lovely article.

    “Self-confidence is a tricky thing to nail down, but as far as I have figured out in my lifetime, it comes to this: the more you do, the more you believe that you can do.”

    This rings very true in my current routine of doing absolutely nothing.

  • Cat Girl October 23rd, 2012 7:42 PM

    Hi Sady,

    I just felt an overwhelming responsibility to remind all rookie followers that shelters are often filled with many more cats than dogs.
    This is because people sometimes think nothing of “giving up” their cat because they are seemingly “self-reliant”. Cats thrive on human interaction just as much as dogs do!

    I was actually really excited about the long standing internet cat-craze! Maybe cats are finally getting their day in the sun :)


    Cat Girl

    • taste test October 23rd, 2012 11:39 PM

      I’d like to second that statement. I used to volunteer in an animal shelter, and the amount of cats we had relative to dogs was crazy. we didn’t even get more dogs when we started taking in rescued dogs from a big puppy mill bust one state over…

      also, we had way more interest in kittens than adult cats. we always had a ton of kittens, but we also didn’t hold on to them long. adult cats, on the other hand, took months/years to get adopted. it makes sense- kittens are cute little fuzzballs and adult cats are less fun- but it’s still sad. (also, a sad amount of those adult cats were given up because they were no longer cute little fuzzballs.)

  • stel October 23rd, 2012 7:55 PM

    It was actually just today that I had this exact debate with a friend of mine, though I am pro cat. While although dogs love you unadulterated, it’s sometimes nice to not have a love machine constantly at your feet. I like having my own time and space, but I also like having a little buddy sit on my lap when watching Buffy. I have two cats, Tippy and Molly, that love me and receive love extremely often. I like that they go and do their own thing, because I’m the kinda girl who likes to do my own thing too. I like cats, I think, because they are a reflection of my personality. Don’t get me wrong, dogs are awesome. I just love cats.

  • catiel October 23rd, 2012 8:24 PM

    ‘having to deal with the products of another being’s butt keeps me from taking quite so many trips up my own’ – SO TRUE. Having a dog is the most grounding thing in my life, having to make time every day to take him for walks, to have cuddles and yeah, to pick up his poo. These are probably the things that stop me quarter-life-crisising every day.

  • periwinkle_dreams October 23rd, 2012 8:48 PM

    Awwww…I’m a freshman in college and I miss my little beagle SO MUCH right now…she’s the sweetest dog ever and she’s adorable and when I’m home she always comes over to lick my face if I look sad or she hears me crying in another room. dogs are awesome <3

  • TamponAngel October 23rd, 2012 8:51 PM

    STOP NO! cats are way better. sorry y’all. I have two cats (Seamus and Charlemagne) and they are FURRY LILL BADASSES. They are incredibly loving and lumpy.

    • Josefina October 25th, 2012 6:36 PM

      Charlemagne? Oh my god, that’s badass! I’m always in favour of naming anything and anyone after historical/mythological figures, but people beg to differ whenever I suggest the idea :( my cat didn’t last long as Athena.

  • Anna F. October 23rd, 2012 8:52 PM

    Can we all share pictures of our dogs? Dexter lives at my parents’ place, which means I only get to see him a few times a year. He’s always my favourite part of returning home.

  • Adrienne October 23rd, 2012 8:53 PM

    Dogs are the best! My sister and I begged our parents for 15 years before we actually got one! If you’re ever considering getting a dog, please get it from the local shelter. :)

    Here are some pics of my dog hehe:

  • kellbell October 23rd, 2012 8:56 PM

    Hektor is my dream dog! He’s my two favorite breeds combined into one super pet! However I love my dopey, loveable Beagle-Gernman Shepherd mix Dean. He is the most spoiled dog I’ve ever come across, with good reason of course.

  • bootie October 23rd, 2012 9:07 PM

    Thank you for giving our canine friends some much deserved internet love!

    Rescuing my little fur baby 3 years ago changed my life for the better. Yes, they are a huge responsibility, but that doesn’t outweigh the benefits (not even close!). I wouldn’t trade him for all the cats on the internet, ever. <3

  • katie October 23rd, 2012 9:18 PM

    i have a very large black lab who feels the need to sit on my chest when i’m upset. its very inconvenient to the whole breathing thing but very sweet.
    dogs 4 ever
    (although i have a cat too and hes great in his own way)

  • Guinevere October 23rd, 2012 9:32 PM

    Here’s a few (A few?! Ha.) pictures of my dog, Seven (as in 007, like James Bond), that I took. ;) I wish I could make them bigger, but I can’t really figure that out… :/–xB9PuCVoM4/UFqAtoXwdFI/AAAAAAAAETQ/9X1r8EyvdwA/s652/P1100308.JPG

    • puffling October 23rd, 2012 10:10 PM

      your dog is a total babe.

    • Lillypod October 24th, 2012 12:00 AM

      omagahhhhhd!!!!! your dog is the cutest!!!

    • evangelinemay October 24th, 2012 9:21 AM

      omg i want this dog! so cute!

    • jeans kinda girl October 24th, 2012 9:13 PM

      I wouldn’t be suprised if your dog stolen in the middle of the night. And really, who could blame the thief? Your dog is JUST SOOOO CUTE!!!

  • jenaimarley October 23rd, 2012 10:44 PM


    Oh my gods also has anyone seen the show Wilfred?

  • llamalina October 23rd, 2012 11:49 PM

    My dog is the best and I love her so much. I’m pretty sure that I have bragged about how great my dog is to everyone I’ve ever met. She’s just so adorable and smart and always there to play or lick my face when I’m sad. It’s true that everyone should have at least one dog in their lifetime. If everyone had and loved a pet dog, the world would be a happier place and everyone would get along. Just look at how a dog brought Kim Kelly and Millie together!

  • Jessica W October 24th, 2012 3:13 AM

    I’m giving this to my parents to read. I’m 17 GODDAMMIT. I SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO GET MY OWN DOG.
    Sidenote: I wish you included Boo in this article. I love me some Boo.

    The Lovelorn

  • sophiethewitch October 24th, 2012 3:29 AM

    This is blasphemous!
    Everyone knows cats own the world…

    Though actually, I’m not really a cat or a dog person. I’m kind of a hipster when it comes to animals– I like the ones no one else likes. I have a pet snake.

  • NotReallyChristian October 24th, 2012 4:29 AM

    Always and forever a cat person! I really like dogs, but I’m a pretty laid-back, independent person. I like cuddles, but I also like my own company, and my own time and space. I also like naps, confined spaces and being petted … I’m Maru, basically.

    • sophiethewitch October 24th, 2012 9:07 PM


      Dogs are TOO loyal and trusting, in my opinion. They’ll keep coming back to an abusive owner again and again. Cats give the human race all the indifference it deserves.

  • karastarr32 October 24th, 2012 6:13 AM

    Sorry about that, I’ve always wanted to have four cats called Cordelia, Wesley, and (breaking the trend) Finnick, and Annie :)
    Back to finish reading

  • Elizabete October 24th, 2012 8:20 AM

    ☆DOGS ROCK ☆

    I Love all animals, but i find cats too egoistic and i agree that everything is full with cats and kitties on the internet.

    I was a weird kid when little and didn’t want a pet while mom really wanted one, it’s almost like she begged me, not really, but kinda? However less than two years ago i met my pug girlie and can not imagine how i lived before! I also believe that she was the one who saved me from attempting suicide and helped getting out of depression.

    Here’s my sister/best friend heri : (when little )

  • Danielle October 24th, 2012 11:24 AM


  • starsinyourheart October 24th, 2012 1:09 PM

    PRO CAT.
    no i really really reeeally want a dog because they are just so loveable and interactional. i have always had cats and i love that they are so independent and you don’t have to worry about them but they also come up for a cuddle and a chill and they’re cool and purry and they smell good, but i would still kill for a dog. even if they are super clingy.

  • starsinyourheart October 24th, 2012 1:12 PM

    also OMG, Magnolia!! I thought I was the only person in the world who’d seen that movie! I adore it adore it adore it. It makes you feel so alone and but never lonely.

  • LisaPizza October 24th, 2012 2:42 PM

    Yeahhhhh dogs!!!!
    I like them so much better than cats. I only like cats in pictures.

  • MayaLily October 24th, 2012 3:46 PM

    CATS CATS CATS!!!!!!!!!!

  • GlitterKitty October 24th, 2012 7:08 PM

    Cats all the way. I don’t mind dogs but I would never want to own one. The whole walking in the dark and cold just turns me off. And the big ones scare me. Cats are low maintenance but still affectionate. And they make you love them before they love you. It’s better that way because they want you to care about them too, they don’t just blindly follow you like dogs.

    • Mary the freak October 25th, 2012 8:04 AM

      You are right. Cats rule! (:

  • jeans kinda girl October 24th, 2012 8:55 PM

    May I just say there MUST be a reason that the saying is “man’s best friend” not man’s best cat. Just saying…
    (All though, I may be biased because I have a dang cute mutt-puppy curled up sleeping on my chest right now)

  • piratejenny October 24th, 2012 9:16 PM

    love dogs but don’t want one either because its just like having a child, I have two catsm I think adopting adult cats are the best because they’re personality is already set, you’ll know it the cat is affectionate or stuck uplol, with kittens you just don’t know, I don’t know why people claim that cats aren’t clingly. One of my cats follows me from room to room jumps on my lap everytime I sit down, constantly meows, sleeps in my bed I never get a moments peace, he also knows when I’m feeling down, besides the walking part sometimes I feel like I have a dog, but I love my cats with all my heart!

  • TinaBallerina October 25th, 2012 4:29 AM

    Dogs are the bezt!! I have a large brown poodle, Anton. He is literally my best friend. Every day when I come home from school he’s ecstatic, and runs around with a shoe in his mouth. I love walking him, and he always listens intently to every thing I say.

    Dogs are awesome!!

  • Mary the freak October 25th, 2012 8:01 AM

    Oh no. Because, a cat has her own character from her birth to her death and a dog is trained and hasn’t as much personality as a cat! Cats rule.
    And dogs can also be cute, I have to admit. They sometimes are really cute.
    But hey, there’s nothing better than my cat. She’s eight years old and kinda fat and fluffy and so awesome. She’s even able to write on a keyboard, see:
    She just thought she needed to sat down on my laptop. whatever. She’s in my arms, actually, right now, and she is purring and she’s adorable.

    But Dogs are , well, okay, too. They can be amazing. But I guess I am just a cat person.

    she’s trying writing again. oh well.

  • mismatchedsocks October 25th, 2012 10:26 AM

    Dogs are everywhere. They have video games based on them & movies. Hollywood has it’s only little niche out there for dogs. So why are dog owners upset that dogs are not plastered all over the internet like cats? Cats finally have their chance to shine! It’s a moment of celebration!
    Cat owners are always portrayed as insane, frizzy-haired little Grandmas. But we are awesome people too! (We have fun! Sorry insane, frizzy haired Grandmas out there, you are fun and awesome too okay.)

    I’m also totally ‘WITH’ that comment that says shelters are full of cats. We always get those TV commercials with the crying puppies but no one ever stops to think that there are sad cats out there longing for a home.
    Because there’s this awful misconception that dogs can only be loveable. Dogs can only be playful. Dogs can only respect their owner.
    I have cats and they are so playful! I know my friends that have cats agree with me. They are perfect. They don’t bark excessively like dogs. They don’t poop all over the furniture. (They might scratch it but let’s leave it at that!!!) And they seem to know when you’re in the mood to appreciate their companionship. They are amazing creatures and we don’t reaaaaaallly need articles like this that belittle their amazing nature and try to put dogs on top just when cats are finally getting their moment.

  • shelley October 25th, 2012 3:51 PM

    Hektor sounds perfect I love boston terriers! My dog has a cat personality ha he is not loyal at all and refuses to play unless he knows he will get food for it. I love cats and dogs though.

  • alliegidcomb October 25th, 2012 4:39 PM

    I wasn’t expecting an article about dogs vs. cats vs. people who don’t like dogs (or cats, or turtles, or…,) to be so interesting but i don’t think I’ve laughed more. This is kind of perfect.

  • Reoka October 25th, 2012 5:29 PM

    I love both cats and dogs, but my mum doesn’t want any pets.
    I think that, once I start living alone, I would get a dog first, just because I’m more used to dogs. In elementary school, my best friend got a female cairn terrier puppy and I saw her growing up.
    I’m usually a little shy with most pets, because I’m afraid of bites, but I’ve always been okay with dogs, even when they’re barking and acting aggressive.
    I’m not that sure about my cat-tolerance though. I don’t know if i would be able to catch an anxious cat, put it in a cage and take it to the vet.
    I somehow lack “resoluteness” when lifiting up animals and tend to be clumsy, which is why they often feel uncomfortable in my presence and tend to bite me. which then again, worsens my fear of bites.

  • barbroxursox October 25th, 2012 7:58 PM

    I love this! I used to be strictly a dog person, but now I’m a dog AND cat person! I do agree that dogs are more loving and trusting of you. I used to have a dog when I was little and it hated literally everyone except for my mom and me. He was so protective of and devoted to me, even though he barked constantly at literally every other human or animal (dog parks were unheard of). But, cats are cool because they’re really lazy and chill and easily amused, which is basically me in a nutshell. If I had a cat (I can’t now because my mom’s allergic, but maybe in a few years!), I could have a little fluffy version of me!

  • Emmie October 27th, 2012 7:12 AM

    I am a dog and cat lover, equally; I have always had dogs and kitties. However, it always gets me when people say cats don’t need and/or want attention. All the cats my family and I have had follow their favorite person around, sleep with their favorite person, and plant themselves on computers and reading material in order to be petted. If aforemetioned favorite person pets another cat, favorite cat comes running over in order to claim favorite person as their own. All my cats have loved attention just as much my dogs… they’re just smaller so it’s harder for them to be noticed!

  • eliselbv October 27th, 2012 12:32 PM

    “Turtles (the pets for people who don’t like having pets)”
    Sorry but NO! I have a turtle and she’s the best! It’s not that I don’t like having pets, just that my parents don’t like having pets.

  • emkptl November 14th, 2012 7:40 PM

    I love this! I spent the first 28 years of my life being deathly afraid of dogs and then I just decided I had to get over it – so I got a puppy (Keeley) and then I got him a sister too (Teagan). You can read about them on their dog-blog:

    Did you know there are dog-blogs? And dog-bloggers? We’re called DWBs (Dogs With Blogs). Lots of them are written as if the dog is the writer. However, I couldn’t bring myself to do that… a little too cutesy for my taste, I guess.

  • stellar January 30th, 2013 10:04 PM

    dogs r loyal and readily affectionate–how can u beat that?

  • Hannah May May 19th, 2013 3:45 PM

    I hate to disagree, but cats are waaaaayyyyyyyy better than dogs.