It’s far too easy to separate people into boxes. Usually, the boxes don’t truly reflect the diversity we find within this human race.

For example, male and female – there’s a world between the two; rich and poor – this largely depends on your personal definition of wealth; gay and straight – there are many variations between and within these terms.

The only true means of assessing people for their differences is the following: cat person or dog person.

As a dog person, I know that my understanding of cats is inherently flawed.

If you’re having a bad day, a dog will jump on the sofa, whether he’s allowed up there or not, and put a big paw or a soft but heavy head on your knee, and the world is better. The dog’s understanding of what you’re going through may be limited, but it feels like he knows. And he cares.

Conversely, you could be having a nervous breakdown, rocking back and forth underneath a desk and gibber-drooling, and a cat would saunter past with a half a mouse between its teeth.

Before all the cat people go off me, I know it’s not that simple. A cat will come to you, but on its own terms. A dog is a much better choice of pet if you want an animal friend who is emotionally dependent and barks a bit.

My reason for being more dog than cat is that I almost had an eye clawed out by our childhood cat when I was seven. Penny may have coloured my interpretation.

However, the thing on which I think we can all agree, whether cat or dog person, if my animal friend doesn’t like you, you’re going to have to work very hard to convince me to give you the time of day.

Now, just to define terms: I don’t go by Pumpkin’s assessment because she’s scared of everyone. Doobie doesn’t much care for fellas, so his barking at all men warrants further investigation. Poppy only likes people who she can put to work rubbing her belly.

Tara is an excellent yardstick for whether there’s any point in maintaining a friendship. There are very few people she doesn’t like, and those she’s uncertain of lead to this otherwise stable, happy and bladder-safe dog, running away, rolling onto her back and weeing into the air.

This is a clue.

The dogs developing an air of nonchalance is not a warning sign. If they barely lift their heads in acknowledgement of a strange presence, that’s just dandy.

Their barking is nothing to be concerned about, because they’re dogs. They bark.

However, if their tails go down, if their ears go back, if they hide behind me or try to nudge the offending person out of my path, this is something that will end friendships, business relationships, romantic entanglements and the like.

I’m pretty sure Tara’s devotion to me is why Aimée wound up moving in. It may sound like an exaggeration but if Tara hadn’t fallen for me, certainly we wouldn’t be headed for our third anniversary.