The adventure of a mutt
“A designer what?” I asked my wife who was telling me about the puppy our friends brought home shortly after we had adopted our dog.
“A labradoodle is a designer dog,” she explained.
I remembered designer jeans from the 1980s. Those were a terrible idea. I wondered if a designer dog was an equally bad idea.
“It’s a cross between a Labrador retriever and a poodle,” she continued.
“You mean like our dog,” I said.
“No, our dog is a mutt," she corrected me. "A labradoodle is bred to get the best qualities of both breeds. The idea is that you get a dog with the friendly disposition of a Labrador and that, like a poodle, doesn’t shed. No one would intentionally breed our dog.”
She was right about that. Our dog has a great disposition. She likes children, but will instantly alert us to any adult who approaches the house. The problem is she sheds, and not just in the spring and fall. Any time of the year you can run the vacuum at 9:00 a.m., and by noon, no one would have the remotest idea that a vacuum had been close to the room.
We know that the mother of our dog was a Labrador. No one knows anything about the father. There are some clues. She has the distinctive howl of a hound, and fur about the right length for a retriever. I have been told that we could have a genetic test that would let us know what breeds are in her father’s lineage. I might be inclined to have the test done if I wanted to create a designer breed.
“What if you end up with a dog that sheds like a Labrador but has the high-pitched bark of a poodle?” I inquired.
“Then you have a mutt,” she said, looking at the dog that was dropping a fresh covering of fur on the kitchen floor.
I am not sure I like the idea of designer dogs. Too many things in our society have been designed to give us a consistent experience. You can walk into any chain restaurant across the nation, and know exactly what you will find. There is no adventure. When you walk into a mom-and-pop diner just off I-70 somewhere west of Salina, Kansas, you have no idea what you will get.
Some people like chain restaurants and designer dogs. There is safety in something that has been designed to provide a consistent experience. I prefer a world that is less predictable.
Owning a dog that does not shed and has a consistent disposition is like walking into a chain restaurant. Our dog, like that mom-and-pop diner surrounded by fields in Kansas, has been an adventure.
I have been a priest for 16 years. I spent the first four years in Minnesota and Wisconsin, six years on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, before becoming the pastor at Advent Episcopal Church in Westlake in 2010. If anyone would find it interesting I have a son and daughter, which I refer to as a matched set, a wife, a dog, and a cat.