Monday, August 12, 2013

The Many Breeds of Dogs

Dogs have an interesting story. Mostly they're a product of nature, of course, but man had a major role in what they became. There's a good documentary on Netflix that goes into the breeds developed by man, starting with the basic genetic possibilities of nature and our tinkering or honing to get particular results. It's more than I personally could ever do, for sure, meaning I have to tip my hat to the braniacs and mad scientists of our species.

But this blog isn't a matter of scholarship, knowledgeable science and intelligence. I could put up a pretty good front for three or four paragraphs, then it'd all devolve into mindless hash. And to be exposed as an obvious fraud isn't my plan for the day. Simply put, sure, these folks are smarter than me, but so what? I've had dogs, I know my way around.

So I can still look out with my own two eyes and see things and describe the breeds of dogs according to my experience.

The one breed I know best is the backyard breed. You look out and are shocked to see the neighbor dog out there with yours. Did I fail to block all the holes in the fence? How did he squirm his way under it this time? That's your backyard breed.

My dog Underbrush, I heard, was a backyard breed. But I'm picturing her dad as something like a dog hobo or adventurer. Passing through town on a train, checking out the air. Then, for maybe a few hours, wherever he laid his collar was his home. His favors performed, he got dressed again -- the collar -- and caught the next slow-moving train out. Which the townspeople went out to flag, so it'd be slow enough to pick him up.

Underbrush's dad also could've been one of the other breeds, one of the local street corner breeds. There's two different ones, the urban and the small town street corner breeds. As for the urban one, these are local dogs that never see the countryside or a train; there's too many fences and barriers to get to the trains. Like freeways in the way. These dogs are just roaming. They might live in a park, or be someone's dog from an apartment that got away. Then, there they are! On the street or in an alley.

The same thing happens with street corner breeds in small towns. But here you usually know who's got a dog and what they're up to. There's two factors why small towns have fewer street corner dogs: 1) Everything is less in number by the nature of the things, city vs. country; 2) Dogs can't get away quite as easily and live on the street. There's lots of places to run in the city. But in the town, it's so small, the local town cop rounds them up easily and gets them home.

There's a related breed of dog that I won't delve into with a long explanation: That's the Behind the Grandstand at the Races dog. You're like, "Good Lord, I paid $80 to see THIS going on behind me?!"

One of the more honorable breeds of dogs is between neighbors. This is like the arranged marriages between families in the old days. Like the alliances between kings of countries in the 1600s. They want to have peace, or they want to have a decent match for their dogs, usually registered breeds. In fact, that's what it more or less always is.

So we have Lady Fifi of Daisy Mountain and Lord Daleford of Lazy Acres. There's various reasons for these breeds, like her outlook as a happier dog, having fulfilled nature's thing. And Daleford's fulfillment, who, although he's been extremely pampered, at some level hasn't forgotten. They might never see each other again, like Romeo and Juliet, but at least they had that momentary joy and issue. The other big reason is the folks simply want to have more dogs, perhaps with some of them to share with relatives.

The real bad guy of dog breeds is the puppy-mill. Even the word "mill" makes me cringe. This is sad, and I can barely stand to describe what I'm imagining. Suffice to say, it's a downer. This makes the grandstand at the races dog more of a pleasure than a nuisance.

Another breed happens at the loving registered dog place. Where every dog is registered, and every dog is wanted, and every dog will someday go on to win a blue ribbon at Eukanuba. These dogs get their own barn, a dozen pillows to lay their head, squeeze toys till they're squeezed out, and dog treats in just the right amount. Their food is the scientific diet, and their hairbrushes are cleaned hourly, as no tangles are allowed. These are the dogs that have it better than me, and I have it pretty well.

I just took Underbrush out for her morning duty. Looking at her, I had to marvel. "You've been through so much, you and your forebears, to get here and be my dog. Wow! And here you are, even in your old age (nearly 14) and frail health, going through the daily grind, and remaining happy. Wherever you came from, and whichever train your dad climbed off of, you're a cool dog."

No comments: