Thursday, October 13, 2011

In Praise of All Dogs

I was reading a recent magazine article about World Vets, an organization that sends vets and vet nurses abroad to help animals in regions with sparse or no veterinary availability.  Like the Peace Corps but for  animals.  I love this idea!!  Doing this would feed my soul for years!!  I know everyone reading this blog babies their pets like I do, but there are so many others that need care.  (I know there's a need for help here  too, but the idea of travel always romances me.)

World Vets provides pet sterilization and helps with zoonotic disease prevention.   

While reading this article, I noticed a picture of some of the stray dogs in Africa.  Among them, was a dog that looked like Fenway's twin.  This dog was proportionally shaped, with short brown fur, a dark snooter, white socks, a white star on his chest.   My imagination immediately led me to think of Fenway as a dog from an exotic land, somehow dumped in the suburbs of Dallas.  Maybe he was born in a freighter to some African stray who'd sought shelter in a shipping container just before birthing her litter.  Maybe he was part of a wild dog experiment, and had been shipped over from Africa for some canine genetics investigation.  Or maybe, and far more probable, is Occam's Razor:  this is what happens to dogs when we stop playing with their genetics.

A local dog from the World Vets website - another Fenway twin?

I'm certainly not against selective breeding for ability and appearance - Arwen and Nyxie's genetics were certainly the product of selection.  Their beauty is striking (I'm a bit biased, I know...), and they do just what they're "supposed" to do.  Nyxie protects and herds, Arwen pulls (we've made HUGE lifelong strides to reverse this one) and even at her age, has stamina to rival that of her younger siblings.  Regardless, breed selection should always be ruled by the guiding hand of health and sound temperament.

Beautiful girls undoubtedly to conjuring up mischief!

But in the end, Mother Nature gets it right.  My muttly little dog is both handsome and able.  His temperament allows him to play well and communicate appropriately with other dogs.  He is smallish, yet large enough - not quite a little dog, but not quite a big dog either.  Dogs bred to be tiny or extra large tend to have the most health problems, so "medium" seems to be the safest.  His color provides good camouflage over most terrain, and his quiet watchfulness would certainly draw little attention from prey or predator.

The Mutt of Mystery himself!

Fenway's coat color and thickness would be no match for arctic snows, and his size and quiet demeanor would make him the least effective Czech border patrol dog in history.  But today, in our home, this little brown dog rounds out our international Arwen's Pack.  He brings neutrality. From  his flexibility in playing rough and tumble with Arwen, to playing keep away with Nyxie and her toys, our little man has brought balance.  Who knows where he came from or what his genetics are... It's just a damn good thing he managed to get away from those canine genetic investigators, or from that litter of African strays!
Fenway - Mutt of Mystery!


  1. We recently read about World Vets after hearing about it on facebook, I love this idea and it warms my heart. I just wish I could go! Fenway is adorable

  2. I love World Vets too! I would LOVE to participate but am not trained in veterinary meds or in the appropriate way to uh... potty in a hole in the ground. :-) Plus I could never leave my pups for any significant length of time.

    Mamma Heartbeat

  3. I'm pretty sure those ears are Mother Nature at her finest!

    I'm glad to hear that he is a great addition to your pack. I'm really digging the three dog dynamic in my own pack.

  4. those are wonderful peoples
    Benny & Lily

  5. He sure is one handsome fella no matter where he came from, right?


  6. World Vets are heroes who bring hope and health to areas where pups have traditionally been just left to fend...and often the humans have not much more.

    Nature always seems to have a well-thought out plan, as Fenway illustrates. She seeks the middle ground, generally, and the results are resilient and adaptable. Nothing wrong with selective breeding as long as health (physical and mental) is not compromised) but left to the natural order all dogs would likely be slight variations of your handsome "Mutt!"

  7. World Vets is a great organization. I learned of their work this year after the tsunami. That is one cute little pup, the one that could be Fenway's twin. Wish I could save them all!

  8. Your "Mutt of Mystery" is a marvel :D

    Waggin at ya,

  9. Great post, and he's just so photogenic! It's funny, I'm always playing the guessing game as to what Leah might be, with the usual suspects being a mix of GSD, Akita, and Dobe, but at other times, I imagine less common breeds in her heritage, like the Beauceron or the Anatolian Shepherd, and more recently, I saw an Alaskan Husky that looked just like her!

    One of these days I might just have to spring for one of those DNA tests! Maybe you should do the same? I have to agree with you about Mother Nature getting it right; Leah is the most balanced dog in my pack, and also the healthiest.

  10. I love the idea that nature gets it right... I love a mutt. :)

  11. Love this post on so many levels! I'm always making up stories about our dogs' backgrounds, as well. Glad to know it's not just me!


The girls and I love to hear from you - please leave us a note!