Dogs vs Cats —

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Dogs vs Cats —

This has nothing to do with parking, but I think its appropriate to consider something other than our profession from time to time.  I have both dogs and cats and love them equally, however have to side with Jonah Goldberg at the National review on this one.  To get the entire debate, go to the "corner" blog at National review.

Cats V. Dogs: The Eternal Debate 

Okay,
I know that Kathryn and Rich don’t like long debates about cats and
dogs around here, partly out of some bourgeois nod to professionalism
and the weightier issues of the day and partly out of their own deep
biases against man’s best friend. Nevertheless, Mr. Hood’s post  from last night needs to be responded to (Apolitical observation indeed!). His argument seems to be encapsulated in this article. A few scattershot points.

1.Let’s
stipulate for the sake of argument that it is true that cats were of
some utility to humans as guards of granaries and the like. Perhaps
they were even more useful than dogs in some crass utilitarian sense
("greater practical value" in the coldly calculating words of Mr. Hood)
in the days before dog breeding was perfected to make dogs vastly more
efficient and enthusiastic vermin-slayers than cats. But, it must be
noted that cats, as opposed to dogs, care not a whit about actually helping humans.
They are useful in the way guard geese, canaries in coal mines, and
sharks with fricking lasers on their heads are useful — as unwitting
accomplices in human progress (or villainy). Dogs meanwhile, are our
allies and comrades in the eternal struggle to muddle through this
mortal coil (as I argued here).   

Hood
opines: "Dogs may be friendlier, but cats have been more useful." Uh
huh, Mr. Hood. And pray tell Mr. Hood: Who, exactly, would you prefer
to have in your foxhole? The noble hound or the mercenary-yet-languid
cat? Do you sleep better (no doubt having nodded-off reading Jack
London’s exciting tales of man and cat alone in the wilderness) knowing
your cat has watchful eyes on the neighborhood or because your vigilant
canine is on the job? How many blind people do you see walking the
streets with their seeing-eye cats? Does your heart palpitate when you
see drug-sniffing cats at the airport? For surely, your sobriety is in
doubt for you to say such things.

2. By way of illustration: Dogs have been allies in war for thousands of years. For a relevant example:

Dogs have served in the U.S. military during every modern war—World War
I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf War, in Bosnia, and in
Afghanistan—as trackers, scouts, sentries, and messengers; as attack
dogs, mine detection dogs, and rescue dogs.

The dogs are
credited with saving thousands of American lives and great acts of
heroism. Some military analysts estimate as many as 10,000 U.S. and
allied lives were saved during the Vietnam War alone. But although
there are several small memorials around the country dedicated to dogs
that served in the military, there is no national memorial honoring
their service.

Cats, meanwhile, have a less sterling record of combat: 

The
earliest examples of cats being used in warfare dates back to the
Ancient Egypt during a war against Persia. The Persians, fully aware of
the reverence that Egyptians paid to their felines, rounded up as many
cats as they could find and set them loose on the battlefield. When the
Egyptians were faced with either harming the cats or surrendering, they
chose the latter…

The most creative way to use a cat as a
weapon happened in World War II. The United States’ OSS (Office of
Strategic Services, the precursor of the CIA) needed a way to guide
bombs to sink German ships. Somebody hit upon the inspiration that
since cats have such a strong disdain of getting wet and always land on
their feet that if you attached a cat to a bomb and drop it in the
vicinity of a ship, the cat’s instinct to avoid the water would force
it to guide the bomb to the enemy’s deck. It is unclear how the cat was
supposed to actually guide a bomb attached to it as it fell from the
sky but the plan never got past the testing stages since the cats had a
bad habit of becoming unconscious mid-drop.

Not to be outdone by
its predecessor, the CIA also attempted to use cats but this time as a
bugging device during the Cold War. Although a disaster as a guided
bomb, the CIA thought that a cat would make the perfect covert
listening device in a project known as Operation Acoustic Kitty. They
attempted to surgically alter the cat by placing a bugging device
inside him and running an antenna through its tail. The project took
five years and $15 million dollars before the first field test hit a
slight snag when the bugged kitty was released near a Russian compound
in Washington and was immediately hit by a car while crossing the
street. The project was ended soon after.

3. While
not quite a myth, it is something of an exaggeration that cats are
extremely competent or useful ratters. Once sated on the flesh of
vermin, the typical cat takes little to no interest in dispatching any
more rodents, preferring instead to spend the remainder of the day
digesting in the warm sun. Dogs, meanwhile, are some of the greatest
ratters in the world. The terrier in particular can mount enormous
numbers of kills, all to please his master, not his belly.

An
example close to home: my father-in-law once bought a supposedly
champion cat to get rid of mice in his supermarket. Very soon, the cat
had chosen to empty the seafood case instead. This was around the same
time my in-law’s family dog, Snowball, physically prevented my
father-in-law from pulling the Lincoln town car out of the garage for
fear the car might hit one of the kids playing in the driveway.
Snowball put his body between the car and the girl and stood his ground
saying to the metallic beast: Ye shall not pass. The lesson was lost on
no one.

So There…

JVH

John Van Horn

John Van Horn

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