Shenanigan: Dog Days


This past week, I’ve been house-sitting and dog-sitting for my sister. Some portions of this have been quite pleasant; I’ve cooked several meals that tasted fine and didn’t damage any major appliances in the process. And there’s something to be said about keeping entirely to one’s own schedule (other than the neighbor’s rooster insisting on everyone waking up with the sun).

And then there’s the dog.

Don’t get me wrong: I like dogs. I would love to own one myself someday, if I ever find myself living in a place that can tolerate them. I generally prefer bigger dogs, considering that most of the smaller dogs I’ve seen have been yippity little balls of neurosis wrapped in fluff coats.* Granted, big dogs take a lot of energy, and by the end of the day I’m usually about as energetic as a lump of putty. And that’s where Buddy comes in.

You see, Buddy is a Labradoodle. Aside from sounding like a certain toy from my childhood**, the Labradoodle is a cross-breed resulting from one man’s attempt to create a hypo-allergenic guide dog, mixing the strength and low-shedding coat of the poodle with the thick-as-a-brick idiocy of the yellow lab. Or at least that’s the impression I’m left with after spending a week taking care of a dog who shows his affection mainly through a series of swift headbutts.

Issues of personality and excitability aside, there’s also the matter of the Labradoodle’s fur. It grows thick and long enough on the dog’s muzzle to make it look like it has a permanently ratty beard, plus it grows right up in front of their eyes and rather thickly in their ears. You essentially wind up with a dog who, unless you keep trimming it every couple of weeks or so, goes functionally blind and deaf. I’m not entirely complaining, mind you—this throws his aim off enough that I can at least dodge most of the jumps and tackles. And in spite of being advertised as hypo-allergenic, the dog still sets off my dad’s asthma.

I’m comparing all of this, of course, to the little Welsh corgi I encountered a few days ago on my lunch break. For those of you unfamiliar with corgwn, they’re small dogs bred to herd cattle, sheep, and children by nipping at their heels and being short enough to dodge any resulting kicks. This particular corgi was cheerful and calm, happily accepting any pets or tidbits that happened along its way. I don’t think it would have headbutted me even if it could reach.

So what’s the moral of this story? Probably something along the lines of making sure you study up on a breed of dog before buying, adopting, or agreeing to take care of one. Also making sure that your hybrid creatures don’t wind up with a name that would put most creatures in therapy. But above all else, if you read an article comparing the jumpy lug that just ripped out its own tether line . . . to Queen Elizabeth II’s favorite pups . . . you may want to check for bias on the part of the author.

* My ire is particularly saved for beagles, who are small, threatened by everything, and loud. A beagle doesn’t show affection, so much as tolerate your presence whilst growling under its breath.
** I suppose it’s a better combo name than, say, “poo retriever”, “golden dude”, or “Brangelina”, but that really doesn’t say much.

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