The Heidi Chronicles, part 13: Cat people vs. dog people
This is Heidi. Earlier this year, she was "discovered" in the park by a pet talent agency; since then, she has embarked on a one-dog quest to break into the business. This is her Hollywood story as chronicled by Times staff writer Diane Haithman. And this is her “head shot”: That longing look was the result of seeing a biscuit just out of reach.
Since her recent, no-autographs-please appearance at a preview screening of “Beverly Hills Chihuahua” at Walt Disney Studios, Heidi has been awaiting her personal invitation to meet Rusco, the star Chihuahua who portrays Papi in the movie. Hey, perrito, what’s up with that? Not big enough to keep a promise? Just kidding, of course.
Heidi and I understand that, following the box-office success of the film, Rusco must be one busy Chihuahua, and we patiently look forward to shaking his tiny paw someday. But amid the current Chihuahua frenzy, I have to admit that I’m proud of being stage mother to a real dog — you know, a big dog. A dog of size. A dog that will never be mistaken for a rodent, or wear embarrassing little sweaters, booties or jeweled barrettes. The kind of dog you can take for a walk at midnight and know that nobody’s gonna steal your Fatburger.
Mind you, this is coming from the former owner of a cat, a relatively small animal — although at 16 pounds, our late tabby cat, Chrysler, was pushing the envelope.
Heidi is my first dog. Yes, I was a “cat person,” the name many insist on calling any owner of a feline, often with a pitying tone that suggests you would probably have a dog if only a dog would have you. In our divisive culture, it seems any pet enthusiast must opt to be “cat person” or a “dog person” — and if you refuse, society will choose a label for you.
Just try it. Say “I like cats” to any group larger than, say, four, and you can bet someone will reply, often smugly: “Oh, you’re a cat person? I’m a dog person” — even though a cat is no more the opposite of dog than a pig is the opposite of a moose.
I’d like to point out, in this heated presidential election year, it is not necessary to politicize this issue, to divide our country into dog states and cat states. I love them both.
But when it comes to canines, well, I guess I’m just a big dog person. But, please, Rusco, remember that Heidi holds no such bias. She adores dogs of all proportions, as you can see in this photo in which Heidi meets a new little friend, 4-month old Chihuahua Cinces, at a local park. She will measure you by the size of your talent and your heart, not your freakishly small body. She may be taller than you, but don’t be afraid to give a big dog a call.
Photo of Heidi and Cinces: Diane Haithman/Los Angeles Times