I'm Not Stalking You, I'm Stalking Your Dog
For five years, I was a vet clinic volunteer at the Anti-Cruelty Society in Chicago. Each animal that came into the shelter was given a veterinary examination, which determined whether the animal was physically and temperamentally suited for adoption. Even though there were some sad moments (like seeing a pit bull that suffered horrible burns or having to take a sweet but elderly and arthritic dog to the euthanasia room), I loved my time at Anti-Cruelty.
I learned a lot, especially about dogs. My responsibilities included selecting a dog for examination, waiting in the hallway with the dog, holding the dog during the exam, and then delivering the dog to the next destination. (Usually, when all went well, to the adoption kennels.) A popular sport at the clinic was trying to guess the heritage of various mongrels. Several illustrated posters of dog breeds lined the hallway where we waited for exams and I often studied them.
Peter makes fun of me because after all the time I spent with him at airports for his helicopter and airplane lessons, I still cannot identify many aircraft. I know about 3 helicopters and a handful of airplanes. But I can spot a Kuvasz or a Puli at a hundred paces.
When we were at the Cliffs of Moher, Aunt P and I spotted a very interesting looking dog. It was biggish and rangy, with long legs, a boxy yet pointy head, and scruffy black and white fur. Intriguing and exotic yet somehow familiar, we were both struck by the dog's appearance and immediately started to puzzle over its breed combination.
After discarding a few options, inspiration struck. "It's a lurcher of some sort, my guess is a border collie," I told Aunt P, further explaining that 'lurcher' is just a fancy name for a greyhound crossbred with something else. The lurchers I'd come across in the past tended to be crossed with terriers, wolfhounds, or deerhounds. I'd never seen a border collie lurcher before and the mix was quite striking. We admired the dog from a distance and then carried on with our sightseeing.
The next afternoon, we were sight-seeing at Pol na Bron dolmen. As were finishing up and walking back to the car, Aunt P and I spotted a familiar lanky dog striding along the path. It was the very same lurcher. As we were going to pass his person, I decided to confirm my suspicion.
"Excuse me, " I said. "He's a lovely dog. Is he a border collie lurcher?"
The guy looked suspicious, puzzled, and impressed, all at the same time. "Yes. How'd you know?"
"Oh, we saw him yesterday and it took me a few minutes to figure it out. Not the usual mix, but he's so handsome, we remembered him."
Aunt P and I pet the lurcher and his little friend, a terrier. They were both lovely dogs and the guy was quite friendly, after he'd gotten over the shock. It did take every ounce of self-control I had not to blurt out "I'm not stalking you, I'm stalking your dog!"