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In my youth, I was an all-out cat person. I loved that they were so independent. I’m still a cat person and I have three cats to prove it, the oldest of whom is mine and mine alone and ferociously independent, except when she wants to have the area behind her ears scratched.

But as I’ve aged, I’ve become a dog person, too. I love my cat, but my dog loves me and, thus, I have to love her back. My dog follows me around the house. She sleeps at my bedside. She stares at me as I cook or clean or even just sit and read a book.

Last night she was driving me crazy. She’d been in her kennel while everyone was at work/school and was clearly looking to burn off some energy. We went for our usual walk in the morning and evening, but that was not enough. We went for a third walk. Still annoying. She was bouncing around, attacking the cats if they showed their faces and trying to pick fights with our other dog. “You’re being a shit and driving me crazy,” I told her. She continued to jump around. She was so bad that she nearly knocked my husband on his butt by running into his shins when we took them for their third walk. Rambunctious.

I should explain that she’s a middle-aged gal, like me. She has middle-aged gal problems, but her figure is holding up really well. After last night’s little display of piss and vinegar, I thought tonight I’d really tire her out. We did our usual walk when I got home, but, after a rest, I took the dogs out with my bike. “Let’s run, ladies,” I said, and they were off. The younger dog ran ahead of me, but my dog ran just in front of the bike. We did one lap and they didn’t seem tired. So off for another. This time the old girl started to really show off some tongue. But when she thought she saw a rabbit, she found a burst of energy, so we went for a third lap. My goal was to see her flop her tired arse on her bed and fall directly asleep. At the start of the third lap she was clearly tired. Her tongue was more out of her mouth than in, but I reminded myself of last night’s shennanigans and rode off. This time she trailed me slightly. But she kept up. And that’s the thing about dogs. Even when she was dog-tired, she pushed herself to follow me. My cat would have sat down and started licking her butt while staring at me like I was uncouth.

I still value independence, but I treasure commitment and devotion. Independence is a powerful force, but commitment and devotion are what can bring sanity and meaning to day-to-day life. So am I a cat person or a dog person? I’m both. It’s like ying and yang, Bill and Ted, salt and pepper, sweet and savory. One is just not as rich without the other.