When and where I grew up, dogs were just dogs: brown dogs, white dogs, black dogs, black and tan dogs, etc. The smallest were Shiba; the largest were Akita and in between there were just ordinary dogs. Only affluent westernized families had fancy pure breeds. There were no designer dogs, just mutts. Some belonged to families, others just roamed around.
I adopted a large senior dog from a local Humane Society a year ago. He had a funny face with a long muzzle. The humane Society people told me he was a Collie mix. All the official papers said he was a Collie mix, so I registered him as a Collie mix.
Weighing nearly 90lb he was a super obese Collie. He was slow and low-key and walked like a sumo wrestler. He chewed things obsessive compulsively. He was stubborn as hell and didn’t act like Lassie at all.
“What kind of dog is he?” Since I got him I was asked numerous times by strangers. I say, “Mutt,” and “Do you know what kind of mix he is?” people asks.
My dog seems to have a distinct feature, which is somewhat familiar but not distinct enough for many people to put a finger on. That makes people wonder what he is. Eventually a consensus view emerged.
Spuds MacKengie a.k.a. Budweiser Dog on steroid.
I finally succumbed to the temptation and ordered a DNA text kit on-line. I mailed it out expecting a “happy family”- like result: a little bit of Collie, a little bit of Pitty, maybe a German Shepard or two.
The result blew my mind. His (probably) dad was a pure bull terrier. His grandparents were bull terriers; his great grandparents were bull terriers. He was half bull terrier. The other half was ambiguous, with a miniature bull terrier and a hound in his ancestry. There was not a drop of Collie in his gene pool!
He wasn’t an obese Collie mix. He was a supersized bull terrier mix. He was not fat. He was muscular.
One day I noticed a lady staring at him. She came up to me and asked, “Bull terrier mix?” I said, “Yes.” “Stubborn?” she asked. “Yes, very” I said. She nodded knowingly.
That made me think:
What is he? Is he a fat lazy Collie or a muscular bull terrier? If I didn’t know his DNA makeup, he would be still a fat Collie. I might have put him on a weight loss program to keep him healthy. Actually he had spent his entire life as a Collie mix with his former owner. Or maybe he is just a heavy stubborn dog with a long muzzle.
Then what am I? I could be fat or muscular. I could be feminine or masculine, depending on the model the society/individual applies. Or maybe I am just a human being with olive skin.