Are "bad" pets endearing?

Some “Cafe Society” style examples:
I’m a dog person, but found the movie “Marley & Me” annoying on several levels. A major problem was that I didn’t find Marley’s out-of-control hijinks endearing.

Puppies are going to chew up things and poop indoors, but once they’re 18 months old they should be more fun than headaches.

The talking cat, Bucky, in the comic strip “Get Fuzzy” scratches people and dogs, vandalizes the apartment, and is a general asshole. When I read the comic, my usual reaction is “just get rid of him.”

Moving things to the real world:
I’m a dog person and have lived with or owned 15 or 20. The only time I’ve gotten rid of one of them was when my baby daughter got bitten… so I’m fairly tolerant of animals. But I’m only going to be amused by a dog grossly misbehaving if it’s a very rare occurrence.

I think that cat owner’s have a reputation of enjoying abuse from their pets. Is there some truth there…more so than for dog owners?

Are bad pets endearing?

I only find them endearing when they’re wrecking the lives of people I don’t particularly care for, Owen Wilson for one!

Otherwise, yeah, I do think ‘why the hell can’t you control that pet’. It’s the same feeling of annoyance I get as when I see someone with a petulant brat clearly failing at disciplining their child.

No way, I can’t stand an untrained dog at an age where they definitely should be trained. It’s the owners fault too.

My cat is annoying (he’s always in the way and vocal), but he’s not mean.

I do not own a pet currently, but when I do, I firmly believe in training it well.

For me, kind of, but with a lot of qualifiers.

Our dogs are well-trained, by most people’s standards. They aren’t generally destructive, they can be let out with me when I’m gardening and stay in the yard, I can call them off squirrel-chasing with no problem, and they very rarely have accidents (usually when one of them is sick), and they listen well. However, every once in a while they decide that the punishment or disapproval is worth the risk - our Australian Shepherd once raided the trash for corn cobs [she loves corn], she bitches loudly if you are teasing or annoying her, and she’s horrible to the cat [though subtly so she doesn’t get in trouble]. Our Sheltie doesn’t listen worth a damn if he’s pissed off, and he occasionally feigns deafness. While these are “bad” things, I enjoy them, because it’s obvious that the dogs have a personality and desires of their own, which makes them more entertaining pets, even if it’s inconvenient. The infrequency is what makes it endearing rather than annoying.
My parents last dog would also take vengeance on anyone who was mean to him. For example, if you stared or laughed at him when he was pooping, he’d bark at you afterwards (or jump up and kick you, even though he was generally good about not jumping up), and, one day when my brother was teasing him, he spend the night systematically destroying everything he’d used. It was destructive, but my brother kind of had it coming, and he was an awesome dog.

TLDR: I like occasional badness in an otherwise well-behaved dog. It’s so much more interesting.

I find this is true for me too. I had one dog, Roman, who was just about perfect when it came to behavior. The occasional lapse tended to be quite endearing because of this. One example was the Christmas Eve Incident.

We use a tabletop Christmas tree and put all our gifts on the table around it. The year of The Incident, our two dogs at the time, Roman and JC, were generally so well-behaved that all the dogs’ gifts were there too even though that put them within easy reach. Neither of them showed the slightest inclination to disturb anything on the table.

On Christmas Eve we went out to dinner. When we came home, we found a pile of wrapping paper and empty wrappers on the living room floor. The dogs had very neatly extracted every edible gift of theirs from the pile of presents, opened them very carefully (none of the paper was shredded) and eaten every single thing inside. This amounted to probably 5 pounds worth of dog treats.

That this happened exactly once and they were so neat about it made it endearing and funny. It would not have been nearly so cute if this was a regular feature of leaving them alone, or if they’d made a huge mess.

(I obviously don’t know for sure who the instigator was, but my money is on Roman. It would be just like him to misbehave and yet still be good about it on some level. I guess once one knows the rules one knows how to break them properly.)

I’m with the OP. The ads for Marley & Me ensured that I would never watch that movie, and I no longer read Get Fuzzy. No way I would keep a dog or cat that poorly behaved, and no idea why anyone would.

Fuck no. My ex boyfriend’s cat bit me, and I punched it in the face.

I admit it, I adore Bucky. Not because he’s a bad cat, but because he reminds me so much of how one of my best friends thinks. It cracks me up.

But Marley I have no opinion of, having not read the book or seen the movie.

Only to their owners.

As to the dog owners vs. cat owners question… well, cats are far less “trainable”. The best you can hope for is that they won’t do that thing you don’t want them to do in your presence. Cats aren’t pack animals, they don’t observe the same social codes, or require your approval. Cat owners accept that we are not, in any meaningful way, The Boss of Them. Of course, that’s assuming that we’re talking about jumping on the counters, not vicious attacks.

I don’t think anyone enjoys having an aggressive animal. However, I definitely think that rambunctious troublemaker animals can be fun.

One of my cats is very well-behaved, quiet, and never causes any trouble. Nobody pays that much attention to her.

The other one acts like a kitten who never grew up. He is totally rambunctious. He will unroll the toilet paper all over the bathroom floor. He has escaped from my house at least half a dozen times (whereas the other one hasn’t tried even once). He tries to steal food if someone eats in front of him. He tries to paw at my face and bite my hands if I fall asleep on the couch (I don’t let him in my bedroom for obvious reasons).
And he’s the one that everyone loves - he has “personality”. There is no aggression or malice in his behavior - he’s just a playful, goofy animal. I definitely think that I feel the same way about him that Marley’s owners felt about their dog.

I read the book Marley & Me but have not seen the movie.

In the book, it’s pretty clear there’s something wrong with Marley - a vet tells his owner that he’s pretty much mentally ill.

Not sure I could carry on with such a dog, but they did. The rest of the book kind of flows from that.

My memory is that no such explanation was offered in the film. I’ve not read the book, but assumed that it must have been well done… and that little tidbit you provided seems completely vital to me.

It’s good to see some people defending the perspective that a little cussedness makes for an interesting companion.

I just did a quick Google on the book to see if I might have misremembered, but I’m apparently correct.

I haven’t seen the movie, as I said, so I’m not aware of what is in the film, but if they left that out it would surely just seem like “clueless people live with dog they can’t train” vs “mentally ill dog trained to the best of its limited ability, people chose to live with it anyway”.

No, and neither are their owners.

Granted, there is a difference between a poorly trained pet and a mentally ill one. However, I would venture to guess that the majority of what we see as “bad” pets are the former rather than the latter.

My memory is they played it for laughs and then at the end milked the dog’s death for tearjerk points.

A scene at obedience school was set up for sit-com style yucks, with a snooty instructor bragging about how his system always worked, and then ending up in hysterics after Marley creates anarchy.

So Marley was shown as wild n’ crazy, rather than “mentally ill.”

I’d sigh for the stupidity of Hollywood for making such a boneheaded decision, but hey, the film grossed over 100 million… so I guess I’ve got the bonehead.

(But I really had wondered how the book --a best seller and turned into a major motion picture-- had made such a story entertaining, and now I understand. Thank-you.)

I think that people often mistake “misbehaved” for “has personality.” Or “is a loose cannon,” “a renegade,” “a MAVERICK”! A lot of people complain that Cesar Millan sucks the personalities out of dogs on the Dog Whisperer and while his methods may not always be right (some ppl disagree), I don’t see the personality angle. All of these dogs seem horrible before he gets to them. If that’s your idea of personality…I shudder.

Yes, I remember visiting a home with an autistic cat. The animal was very antisocial and became aggressive and anxious around large groups of people. But he was still thought of by the family as their beloved pet, and they were careful not to let him harm people.

This is the same difference between having a bratty, spoiled child and having a child who is, for instance, autistic. I think it is possible to have a bratty, spoiled, mentally ill pet or child as well as a mentally ill pet or child who has been given an attentive and careful upbringing so as to not expect to be able to get away with extreme acting out.

I’ll admit it is sometimes endearing when my cat misbehaves, but regardless of how charmed we are by her big yellow eyes, we have still been firm with her to the point where she no longer relieves herself in potted plants or claws up the furniture.

No, no they are not. The very title of this thread made my skin prickle forebodingly. Animals have their quirks and occasional transgressions, sure, but it’s up to the owner to grab the little beast by the scruff of the neck and rub its nose in the pee stain on the carpet.

I have the meanest cat I have ever met. She was feral when I got her as a kitten, she has never been mistreated a day in her 10 years, and I am the only person on Earth that she would not just as soon kill as look at. Nothing can break her from hissing, biting, scratching, or generally just being an asshole, so I warn everyone that walks in the door and leave it to them to avoid her. Luckily, she is not apt to just up and make a running attack - she generally prefers to bite the hand that pets her.

To be honest, I love her evil, little heart. I get a kick out of the fact that she will perch in my lap, letting me rub and pet her, while staring hatefully at my friends. It makes me feel like some sort of Bond villain. I make a point of telling everyone, as soon as they enter my door, that she is mean as a box of snakes and not to be messed with. Almost without exception, people respond, “Oh, cats love me, I never have a problem with them, blah blah blah.” Because she is beautiful, they then try to stroke or pick her up, and I have to break out the first aid cream and band-aids.

So, since she can not be broken of this feral streak, I have two options: put her down or put up with her. I’ve chosen the later and have come to see it as endearing. But I do sort of hope to have a cuddly, friendly cat next time.