Sunday, February 19, 2012

Dog in a Cat's World

There's a theory that most personalities fit into two categories: dogs or cats. This has little to do with which pets you like, but rather, how you relate to others.

Dog personalities like to please people. They are team players, and make decisions through extensive consultation. Cat personalities make independent decisions according to their own interests and priorities. Others' opinions are only important if they fit the cat's own single-minded purpose.

Suddenly the past few years of my life make terrible sense. I am a dog, in a world ruled by cats. What's worse, I unwittingly believed that most of our beloved leaders were dogs. No wonder I couldn't make any headway as a political activist.

It isn't all bad news though. Just mostly bad news. Cats are often capable (if uncaring) leaders. A cat can make a sound decision in the time that it takes a group of dogs to get through the first round of introductions. Richard the Lionhearted and Napoleon were undoubtedly cats . . . but so was Adolf Hitler. I'm guessing that Jimmy Carter, on the other hand, was a red-blooded, your-opinion-truly-matters dog. A great guy, but not the best choice to solve a national crisis. Give me a cat-leader any day when we're staring down the Iranians.

I'm not naive enough to think that anyone, including myself, is all cat or all dog. Most firefighters I know are dog-like, in that they care about others and want to help. Why else would you allow the world to keep you on a short leash called 911? Put a firefighter in charge of the fireground, on the other hand, and he or she must be a cat or things will go south quickly.

The ideal leader would be able switch back and forth between cat and dog styles effortlessly as the need arose. That's why ideal leaders don't exist, by the way. The higher you rise in leadership, the less you see the need for dog-style consultation.

You can read more about the dilemma created by trying to please others in my February column for Firefighting in Canada.

The recently released Drummond Report is a case of cats talking to cats. That's a really scary thought. I haven't had the patience to sit down and actually read it, but from what I hear, both polarized views are likely bad news in the end. Whether both sides honestly believe that they represent the best interests of the province or not, both assuredly care little about anyone else's opinion. And it's almost guaranteed that the volunteer fire service hasn't even entered either side's mind as a consideration of importance.

If you want a more educated perspective on the Drummond Report, you can read Laura King's blog post here.

Political consultation isn't all a waste of time, in spite of my gloomy surmisings. Eventually the issues important to dogs become big enough that even the cats take notice because all of their nine lives depend on it.

When that happens, the dogs that have their ducks in a row will be heard. Thus saith the doggish ant from Upsala.

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