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Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Unending War: Cats vs Dogs

I often wake up at night because of the incessant barking of my dogs.  Sometimes they sound so angry and threatening, at times they sound so frustrated like they cannot get their quarry.  I checked on them several times and found out that they were after a stray cat.
The feline intruder would often get away from them but sometimes he chooses to stay at a spot where the dogs can see him but not reach him.  It was as if he wanted to tease the angry dogs who were after him.  There was even a time when the cat chose to hiss and snarl back at the barking dogs while safely perched on his spot.

This never ending animosity between these two animals has fascinated us for ages. In fact we have so many expressions referring to this war.  In the Philippines, when two people do not get along well and fight constantly, we say "para silang aso't pusa" (they are like dogs and cats).  Of course there is that English expression "raining like cats and dogs" to describe a really heavy downpour.

But where did this hate between each other really come from?  Like anything that old folks could not explain, we have a fable for this.  I read it from a book when I was in grade school  As far as I can remember, this is how the story goes.

Long ago, the cat and the dog were the best of friends.  They were also the most trusted pets of a king.  He trusted them so much that he made them go to bring something to a woman he was wooing in a neighboring kingdom: a ring.  

The king's minister placed the ring on the paw of the dog and sent off the animals.  But there was a terrible storm the night before that the animals had to cross a flooded river.  Now, the cat can't swim but the dog can.  So the cat said to the dog, "Why don't you let me ride on your back so we can both the cross the river?"

The dog hesitated for a while but then he said," Very well, take the ring and place it in your mouth.  Be careful not to lose it or the king will be very mad at us."  

The cat jumped on the back of the dog and they crossed the river. Upon reaching the other side though, the dog slipped and the cat almost fell in the water.  The cat, in his surprise, screamed "watch out" and doing so, the ring fell from his mouth and dropped in the water.


The dog tried to look for the ring but he couldn't find it anymore.  Perhaps the flood brought it along in its current.  And so woefully, the two  animals went back to the king to tell him what happened.  

In front of their master, the dog blamed the cat for dropping the ring in the river.  But the cat blamed the dog, insisting that if he had been very careful, he wouldn't have opened his mouth and dropped the ring.

The king was really mad and threw both of his favored pets out of his kingdom.  The dog was so angry with the cat that he wanted to kill him.  Sensing the danger, the cat ran up a tree and stayed there, hissing and snarling at the dog who was barking endlessly at him, blaming him for losing the special position they have in the palace.


And it goes on to this day.  As it seems, my dogs and the cat who come to visit them every night continue to blame each other for the loss of the  king's ring and the loss of their favored status. 

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