I love my dog. I love her so much that sometimes I feel like I’m simply gonna burst. She is soon twelve and our relationship has lasted longer than any of my marriages.
Her name is Owee, with a long O. She was one of a fourteen puppy litter. Her mother was a lab terrier mix and we’d have to consult Maury to identify her father which makes her a pedigreed mutt, mongrel, tramp, Heinz 57; you get the picture. I adopted her from Noah’s Ark, a wonderful non-kill shelter in Rockford, IL. She was four months old and it was love at first sight…she needed me, and I quickly discovered I needed her too. At the time I had two cats, Oskar and Otto, wonderful rescue kitties and a beta fish from my niece Abby’s wedding reception. It was official, I had a small zoo.
While the differences between cats and dogs are many they can be factored down to one, to a dog you are a pal and to a cat you are a servant. I migrated from Rockford IL to Chicago in the fall of 2007. At first, I was concerned about re-locating with my zoo in tow, (actually the fish didn’t make it), to such an urban environment traveling from the Forest City. To my relief, I found Chicago to be a very dog-friendly city and once Owee learned to pooh on a walk, (she used to have a yard), we settled right in. There are almost as many pet store fronts as Starbucks. I love Chicago. I won’t live long enough to enjoy the city’s riches. I wish I had moved here long before it did. The city is filled with snippets of cultures from around the world and I discovered tastes I didn’t even know existed. Things to do are endless.
Over the summer months one can wander from neighborhood to neighborhood to attend any number of “festivals” featuring music, food, art and crafts, and I’ll admit, outstanding people watching. My husband and I simply hop on our bikes and peddle to see what a festival has in store for us. We wander through the crowd, listen to the music and check out what the local peeps are selling. Pet stuff is popular, about $60 billion sales annually-popular, so vendors selling pet stuff at the festivals and art shows is kind of a no brainer. As a zookeeper, I gravitate toward the pet stuff and really, who doesn’t fancy a bedazzled pet tchotchke. After milling through enough street fairs, it didn’t take long to notice that every dog breed was represented, every dog breed that is...except the mutt. I felt a tad wounded and wee miffed that the canine love of my life was not represented. The new ‘half-breeds’ sure, Labradoodles, Goldendoodles, yada, yada, yada-doodle. What about the mixed breed? What about my “Who’s your daddy, dog”? Instantaneously, if not sooner, I realized I had to remedy this situation. Once home that evening my husband got on the ole Google and learned that we could buy rights to www.iluvmymutt.com. Of all the dogs, the mutt should be the most recognized, after all, aren’t we all mutts? Sure, we ensure the continuation of the purebred dog—and I love them all the same, but in reality left to their own devices, the purebred dog would do it with a mongrel if unattended yielding a mutt.
All I know is I love all dogs, and the way I feel about dogs is the way I feel about people. That we are all from a ginormous litter. A well-tended dog will love you unconditionally, and as humans we should be schooled by that notion. It’s just so simple to live by the golden rule. For the record, while most literature would cite mixed dog breeds as mutts, I like to think of them as ‘one-of-a-kinds’. Because like the precious snowflakes, each one is special. A dog will give genuinely, so my challenge is to do the same and each day I get to practice just that, and I hope you do to. To spin a line from Sargent Phil Esterhaus of Hill Street Blues, “Let’s be kind out there!” After all, it’s a choice. TTFN