Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Reason There Are Dogs

There used to be just two kinds of dogs: pedigreed dogs and real dogs. Rich people had pedigreed dogs. They had papers that showed their ancestry all the way back to the Old Testament. They had strange names, like Skylock Champion of Blubbery Hill, but they were called “Cookie” or “Mimsey”. They didn’t look like they would be much good in a dog fight.

All our dogs were real dogs. Sometimes they had a recognizable breed, sometimes they didn’t. They came in all sizes and colors. They were loyal and lovable and could be taught to do a few tricks and live in the house safely. For a small boy they were the best friend he ever had. When one was hit by a car and died in the street it was the worst thing that ever happened.

One pedigree isn’t enough today. Now there are not just mixed breeds, but carefully mixed breeds. These are designer dogs. They have two ancestral lines and the breeds are called strange things, like “cocky-poo” (half poodle, half cocker spaniel), or “schnoodle” (half schnauzer, half poodle). A lot look pretty much alike: small enough to sit on your lap, curley white hair, big black eyes and nose. They too are affectionate and loveable, and do a lot to fill an empty house.

To get a real dog you have to go to the Internet or to a shelter. A real dog may be less expensive, although shelters like to get back at least part of their out-of-pocket expense. A real dog may already be through that difficult time of learning the difference between in the house and out of the house.

Dogs used to be classified by their purpose. There were herding dogs and guard dogs and dogs that pull a sledge. Most people today don’t have sheep or sledges. A dog may bark at everybody who comes near the house, but that is a nuisance. Nobody gets a dog for any of those reasons. Dogs today are bred for only one thing. Their purpose is to be loved.

This is no small thing. Faith and hope are good, but love is even better.

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