Finding out on the Huffington Post that domestic cats will launch themselves swiftly in the opposite direction on being presented with a cucumber has been a wonderful discovery. It has made me reach for a couple of sticks of vegetable dynamite before I leave the house in case I encounter a member of the feline community on my travels.
My intentions are both dark and practical. Dark, as the sight of a cat going into orbit is something I would sacrifice a cucumber for. And practical, should I be in the vicinity of hummus and respectable company.
My allegiance is obvious. Dogs or cats. The choice is as clear as one's attraction to men or women, Liverpool or Everton and the North or the South. Those who are both are as rare as empathetic cats.
I have tried to improve my relationship with cats since youth. I recall a drunken meeting of myself encountering a ginger Tom asleep on the stairs in the early hours of the morning at a friend's house as i tottered downstairs to the toilet. There was a potentially explosive standoff as he had no intention of moving and I was about to wet myself. Words were had. Claws were shown and there was a degree of spitting. Unsurprisingly, my size prevailed despite my impaired mental state.
More recently, I gave the benefit of the doubt to a friend's cat who settled on my knee as I settled on their sofa after a pleasant evening with him and his wife. The cat dugs its claws into me, left long hairs all over my trousers and caused me to have an asthma attack. The degree of discomfort caused now means that I always visit Dave the Greengrocers to get tooled up with his biggest cucumbers before I even cross the threshold of that house. As I settle down to talk to my friends, Kitty senses that he could be surprised with a variety of prize specimens and keeps his distance.
Cats fall into a number of different stages.
There is no doubt that kittens are cute. But so is anything at that age. Even slugs - have you seen the way they waggle their antennae with questing, kitten-esque "discovering the world" behaviour. Slugs too have a wonderful black or mottled pattern and texture on their skins which is not dissimilar to the sleekness of a Tabby cat.
In their teenage years, cats develop a degree of independence so acute it is like living with a manipulative teenager from a Mafia family. Once breathing trophies are delivered as part of their daily routine. Personally, I am not keen on corpses of whatever species delivered by cats or teenagers. And the disposal of the same - whether a deceased blackbird in the middle of the kitchen floor or a rival cut down in a burst of Uzi gunfire and dumped in the boot of the family hatchback are both just as repugnant to me.
It is only in their twilight years that cats develop any degree of social acceptability. They can no longer kill. They need you more, meaning there is point to the relationship. And their yowling when they need to be fed is no different to grandmas across the land at feeding time.
Dogs are not all good but at least they relate to you as relative equals albeit of the panting variety. More importantly, if you present them with a cucumber, all will sniff it and some will eat it. Having done that, they will revert to their usual pursuits of going through the bins or drinking from the toilet.
Instant love tends to be guaranteed with most dogs apart from those with sharp teeth. I have a rule that I will not develop an emotional attachment with someone who is likely to pierce my skin with their teeth unless they are a member of the Irish group "The Corrs" (including the drummer). This has stood me in good stead in life despite my lack of Corr bite marks.
Dogs can of course make a lot of noise. The same can be said of my sister in law however I still welcome her into Pickwick Towers. I would not though have her lying across my knee as I tickle her tummy. She is also not able to chase sticks despite much encouragement.
Chewing is also an issue with dogs. In their youth, much goes into their mouths. But the same was true of my children with their teddy bears and small "blankie" towels which began fluffy and warm but ended up looking like Bronze Age museum artefacts.
With age, my children have given up this level of chewing. The Pickwick Hound is also more selective. As I write, the stuffing from his bed has been extracted and is scattered across the lounge floor. While I would prefer he didn't do this, who am I to criticise him. I have never sank my gnashers into a king size mattress. And mattress manufacturers have not expanded their product further to include ease of chewing and a choice of flavours alongside proper back support. But, if the market opened up to promote a choice of flavoured mattresses, it is not inconceivable that there would be a rash of mattress munching across the land.
A recent BBC programme comparing the relative merits of dogs and cats as pets came out in favour of dogs. It was unlikely that the conclusion would have been any different given the widespread acceptance of dogs in history as "Man's best friend". Public support opting for one candidate is not flawless. Just look at the rise of Donald Trump with his bid to "Make America Great again", despite bad breath, putting his feet on your sofa, routinely licking his testicles before other peoples' faces and being able to beat you at scrabble. Or was that his dog.
So friends, the case for dogs is overwhelming. Any species that has the temerity to hump the leg of those around them or my mother in laws best fluffy pillows in the case of the Pickwick pooch, deserves respect and understanding. They could be right all along. Try it, you may like it. Canines of the World - go, fetch!