Friday, June 17, 2016

Of dogs and cats

As pet owners, we seem increasingly interested in crossing breeds. I’m sure the American Kennel Association, staunch guardians of the purebred in dogs, is wringing its collective hands. But crosses between poodles and several other breeds have become common. The AKA not recognize them, but I keep waiting for a doodle association to form. The labradoodle is the original cross-bred, developed for its hypoallergenic qualities. It seems after those first few labradoodles, the cross-breeding craze took off.

When I was last in the dog market, some five years ago, I wanted a Labradoodle, but my doctor/brother pointed out that with my age (70s) and my unsure footing, I had no business getting an 80-100 lb. dog. Of course he was right, and I reluctantly gave up that dream, even though I’ve had big dogs all my life. My Sophie, now five, is a bordoodle, a cross between a border collie and a miniature poodle. I’ve never had a poodle, so I don’t know what characteristics she exhibits but I know she has traits of the border collie. She is loyal to a fault, wildly energetic—sometimes taking it out in just running circles in the backyard. Unlike border collies, she is not averse to human companionship—she is my shadow, staying by me all day, following me from room to room. But like her lineage, she is not particularly a cuddly dog—a couple of minutes, and she’s off to something else, though she will sleep at the foot of my bed. She has her favorite people and goes bananas when some of them come around. Sweet, loveable but also known to growl if you take something out of her mouth. A truly great dog.

Tonight I have come upon cross-bred cats. I’m not a cat person—I had one part Maine Coon that was the sweetest animal alive—but other than that I suffered through the cats of my children’s youth. Tonight, reading a mystery proposal about a missing Savannah, I was intrigued by the statement that Savannahs are illegal in some part of this country because, a cross between a domestic cat and an African wild serval cat, they are considered wild animals. Of course I had to look them up online. A relatively new breed, Savannahs have been recognized by the American Cat Association which has a standard for their appearance, behavior, etc. Wonder what that says about the differences between dog and cat people?

Savannahs must be spotted, sort of cheetah-like, for competition. All other colors are sold as pets. They have long, skinny bodies, with long legs betraying their wild ancestry, and long pointed ears. They are friendly, loyal, and curious—easily learning to open doors and cabinets (watch out, owners!). Some can jump eight feet from a sitting position.

Yes, they sound intriguing, almost making me wish I were a cat person. But I believe if I got a second pet, it would be another doodle dog. Then again, I’m not sure Sophie would welcome an intruder into the territory and extended family she has carved out for herself.

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