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Can a Dog Person Become a Cat Person?

Even if you've owned dogs your whole life, a cat could still be a welcome addition to your home.

I’ll admit it. I’m more of a dog person than cat person. My family had dogs as our only pets during my formative years – Clancy, Roxy and Ginger – and, as they say, impressions are made when the clay is still wet. I’m not counting the guppies with no names and our duck, Guillermo, who was long gone before I turned one.

And, in my adult years, I’ve had just dogs. I’m counting college. I was hardly adult, but adult enough to know I couldn’t commit, long-term, to a dog. During winter break of senior year, I heard a radio commercial for an organization called Canine Companions for Independence seeking volunteer puppy raisers for six-month periods. This was perfect. My three housemates and I had no clue where life would take us June 8, the day after graduation, so there was no way we could commit past six months.

We applied, interviewed and became puppy raisers for a Lab pup named IO (pronounced eye-oh). Our instructions were simple: work on her basic commands and expose her to as much as possible. Not a prob. Dorm parties. Check. Walks through the Quad. Check. Trips to Safeway…the library? Why not. She had the special yellow vest which meant we could take her anywhere. Heck, we were expected to take her everywhere.

Four dudes with a Black Lab pup living in a house off-campus in Menlo Park. Not a bad way to spend senior year. We had to change her name, though. IO was impersonal, too close to IOU and wasn’t ours. IO became Gennaio (jen-eye-oh), Italian for January. We didn’t know much, but we knew enough not to confuse her with a different sounding name.

We said goodbye to Gennaio in June – that really sucked – and later learned she didn’t make the grade to become a service animal, but was adopted by a great Petaluma family with a farm. Ee-i-ee-i-oh!

After college, it was six dog-less years before Cooper (named after the lead character in the mid 1990s cult TV show Twin Peaks), another Black Lab mixed with something big, droopy and drooly – maybe Newfoundland. World’s Best Dog. I wrote about Coop often and took him to countless dog and pony shows with Rotary, Lions, SIRS and cable TV gigs for my role at PHS. You can Google Cooper Delucchi!

After Coop passed, it was another “off” year before we found Murray, at the end of PHS’s adoptable dog kennels. Sent my wife a photo and it was a done deal.

Murray celebrates three years in the Delucchi home next month. In that time, we added a son and saw the Giants win two World Series. Murray is mellow, great with the kids. My father-in-law calls him The Professor.

All this dog history, yet I’m completely drawn, these days, to what’s happening on the 3rd floor of PHS’s Center for Compassion.

Since we launched an adoption promotion in early October – no adoption fees for all cats and kittens -- we’ve placed 244 cats/kittens into new homes. For a similar period last year, we saw 173 cat/kitten adoptions. In short, the promotion has done exactly what we hoped it would.

I’ll share three quick stories from our 244 adoptions:

  • A Sunnyvale resident who, in the past year, lost her husband, her dad and a beloved cat and had knee replacement surgery, adopted a kitten born without patellas in the back legs.
  • Another woman who recently lost her long-time feline companion adopted a 14-year-old cat. She said this cat might not have many years left, but she would make them good ones.
  • And, just two days ago, a man adopted a five-yr-old cat who’d been with us since March. This man visited the cat four separate times before adopting. The darn cat never quite warmed to him (even hissed), yet he felt a connection. He gave us a $500 donation.

These are just three of the many stories that have come from our promotion. Enough to make a life-long dog guy feel pretty frisky.

Gwendalina Carrera November 19, 2012 at 05:18 AM
In my family we have always been "dog people". My uncles in Italy always had dogs and my father and my uncle here in SF had dogs. I loved dogs and never really cared much about cats. In fact, I had a sort of weird fear of cats. When I was very young, I read most of Poe's stories and that affected me in a negative way towards cats. I would never hurt a cat, but I would avoid them. But cats have a way of coming into our lives....fast forward a few decades...in 1982 .a mother and four kittens came into our yard in SF and that was the beginning of my life as a "cat lady". I got a job at Pets Unlimited and years later I founded with two other women a cat rescue group. I spayed and neutered dozens of cats, placed them in homes, go out every night on cat feeding rounds and I have done that for 26 years now. Yes! A dog person can become a cat person and be BOTH!
Laura Dudnick November 19, 2012 at 08:13 PM
What a wonderful story, Gwendalina! Thanks for sharing :) Laura
Scott Delucchi November 22, 2012 at 01:49 AM
Gwendalina, To you and the other cat ladies (and men) who do their work in the dark, on limited incomes, with limited time since you have lives and jobs and kids, and for animals who may never show you the same kind of affection we get from our pets, thanks!!

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