/ pets

In Praise of Mutts

Sitting here reading Bark Magazine (which I realize outs me as an insane dog lover more than any of my previous admissions), I came across a quote:

"A mutt is a dog. He is the stuff of dogginess, a creature allied to species, not breed, and untrammeled by human hand or preference. A mutt knows that you have chosen him for himself, and not because he is of the type you set out to get."

Well put. Yesterday, Brenda & I (and Hooper) watched the Eukanuba dog show and couldn't help but feel a bit of a slight, knowing that as great a dog as Hooper is, we could never show him in such an event because he's not a purebred. But I would argue that while there is almost certainly a breed for every purpose, thousands of years of evolution led to a single mating of what is most likely a Border Collie and a Black Labrador Retriever and produced a perfect specimen for Brenda & I.

Hooper is almost exactly fifty pounds, the weight limit our condo association has arbitrarily imposed on dogs in the complex; his coat is low maintenance; he is friendly, almost to a fault; he is handsome; he loves to go hiking; he loves fetch; he loves soccer; he loves learning new tricks; he is smart, and yet he is also stupid, at all the right times.

The AKC doesn't recognize Hooper because we can't show papers that trace his lineage along some lines of doggie purity, but I would argue that Hooper represents something even greater. Hooper is our dog. He was sitting there in the kennel, the day I picked up Emma's ashes, and he held the promise of being everything I ever wanted in a dog, complete with all the high expectations and idealization that comes with twenty plus years of longing for the chance to raise a puppy.

And when Hooper trots up to me in the ballfield, looking into my eyes with a ball in his mouth, timing his drop and velocity such that the ball rolls right to my feet stopping an inch from my toes, and he looks to me to make that blessed ball fly through the air once again, I know, I know, that this animal is the perfect amalgam of DNA; the end result of thousands of years of evolution, strict breeding, and errant screws in untold alleys that led to this precise genetic glop that is Hooper. He is perfect. The AKC says otherwise, but they are wrong.

I encourage you to read the full article that the above quote came from; it's very entertaining, especially if you love dogs and hate purebreed dogma.