After I adopted Lana, I was constantly trying to figure out what the heck she was. The shelter said Chow Chow mix. The rescue said Great Pyrenees mix. My vet wondered if she might have Spaniel. My parents swore she had to have Labrador in her. I had hopes she’d grow up to be a Newfoundland mix. My boyfriend briefly wondered if she might have some Bulldog lineage.
I’d surf the web with search terms that grew more and more frantic. “Medium sized black and white dog”. “Spotted dog”. “Landseer Newfoundland”. “Lab Border Collie Mix”. “Springer Spaniel Mix”. “Are you sure Newfies can’t weigh 50 pounds?”. “WHAT IS MY DOG?!?!” “lwepinwfonadb!!!”
Even now when I say she’s a Border Collie mix (and occasionally a Cattle Dog mix, because why not), I’m basically taking a guess. She has a sickle tail, webbed paws, and a lean body. She has a pathetically hilarious, high pitched bark. I see her pounce like a Spaniel, carry toys around like a Retriever, stare people down like a Collie, and point like a… well a Pointer. She’s comfortable around large animals like a farm dog, but cautious of strangers like a guardian-type dog. Hell, she arches her back like a damn ferret. But I’m pretty sure she’s too big to be a ferret.
The thing is, I don’t want to do a DNA test to see what she is. Can they even screen for ferret DNA?
Because I don’t want to know. Because I’m scared? Maybe a little. Because it doesn’t matter.
My dog is, as a former customer worded it, a “Rorschach dog”.
No, she wasn’t referring to my dog’s awesome, inky coloring. She meant that, when we see a purebred mutt like my dog (or hers), we see what we WANT to see. Like the Rorschach test in Psychology. I saw similarities between her and a Newfoundland because I wanted a big, fluffy, water-loving dog. I wanted the ‘nanny dog’ from Peter Pan. My parents saw Lab, because that’s what we had when I was a kid. The rescue probably wanted to see anything but Chow (for the sake of re-homing the pups more easily), so they guessed another fluffy breed.
And even if I learned she was 23% this and 48% that, finding another dog with similar lineage would not guarantee I’d found a similar dog.
And that’s the beauty of mutts. They can be whatever the Hell you want them to be. And their personalities are so varied. If you’ve lost sleepless nights to the question ‘what is my dog?’, don’t fret. Your dog is a dog – a family member, a best friend, a confidant. And if you’re lucky, like me, your dog is also a bed bug, a playmate, a shoe connoisseur, and an out of control piddler.
Lana is all of that. She is my constant companion. She is perfect as she is. Though my bank account would advise otherwise. And so much of her beauty lies in mystery. She is a enigma, like Rorschach the anti-hero (because anytime I can reference superheroes, I will). She reflects individuality, because she is one of a kind. And I see in her everything I love about her, not a preconceived notion of what I expected her to be.
So maybe your Papillon mix grew to be 60 pounds. Or your Samoyed mix looks more like an American Eskimo.
It’s okay. Breathe in. Breathe out. Then give your dog a hug. Because a dog is a dog is a dog. And dog is always (wo)man’s best friend.