Tuesday, July 22, 2008

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!"


At 22 July 2008 at 22:41, Blogger Babaloo said...

A border collie lurcher, now that sounds interesting. I'd love to see a photo of this guy! Must be very cute looking.

At 22 July 2008 at 23:02, Blogger Kaycie said...

I'm not good at identifying dogs like that, but put a cow or pig in front of me, and I can tell you all kinds of things about them, usually including their breed or mix of breeds. I think it's from years of growing up on a farm and judging cattle in 4-H. Some things just stick with you.

I think your dog id skills are much cooler. And I'm with Babaloo; where his picture?

At 22 July 2008 at 23:17, Blogger Sandy said...

My daughter and I play the same game...my Duck is usually the stopper for other people playing this game. I cannot count the number of times I've heard, "what IS that?"

Great job on the BCL

At 23 July 2008 at 07:04, Blogger Aoj and The Lurchers said...

I have two Border Collie lurchers!

It is one of the more traditional crosses for lurchers but not seen quite so much now.

At 23 July 2008 at 07:44, Blogger -Ann said...

Babaloo - He was so cute looking and seemed to have a good personality too.

Kaycie - I was afraid to take a picture - I didn't want the guy to think I really was stalking his dog. :)

Sandy - I was stumped by a dog when I was in Ohio recently. I'm still not 100% because I didn't see the tongue, but it looked to me like a Chow-Pit Bull mix. The guy told me it was a cattle dog mix, but I don't believe it. (The local animal shelter seems to use 'cattle dog mix' as its euphemism for pit bull mix. At ACS, we tended to call them terrier mixes.)

AOJ - You're a lucky girl indeed. Although I don't know if I'd be able to manage a dog who was both smarter and faster than me. :)

At 23 July 2008 at 07:59, Blogger Lola said...

"He was so cute looking and seemed to have a good personality too."

The guy or the dog?

At 24 July 2008 at 14:40, Blogger Irene said...

We tend not to see many mixes in the Netherlands. it seems that everybody wants a purebred dog or maybe it is just the area I live in. Lots of people have Jack Russell's, though I can't figure out why, I don't care for them much myself. There is one woman with an Australian Cattle Dog, very unusual. I just have a Cocker Spaniel, but I love him to pieces.

At 24 July 2008 at 17:50, Blogger -Ann said...

Lola - Good point - I hadn't read it that way. :) Lest there be any confusion, I was definitely talking about the dog!

Irene - Odd, that. Maybe the Dutch are just really good about spaying and neutering so mixed breeds don't get made.


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