I can’t help but sigh when people ask, “What kind of dog is that?” If I feel like being flippant, I answer, “A big, black dog.”
Our dog, Hercules, came from the Flathead County Animal Shelter. Even with his ribs showing (they aren’t anymore) he weighed in at 95 pounds. It’s those penetrating brown eyes, that deep, goes to your core, stare that got him the ride home. Like most dogs that come from the shelter, he didn’t come with a pedigree
He’s an odd-looking dog. You won’t find his like on the Kennel Club web page. Big head, muscular shoulders, back legs that are just a little bigger than the front set. He has an almost Jurassic look when he walks. What kind of dog is that?
We fell into the same narrow thinking trap, wondering about lineage, so we ponied up some money and had his DNA tested by one of those mail-in companies. It turns out he has quite an eclectic background.
He’s roughly equal parts: Newfoundland, Labrador and American Pit Bull. The remainder, about 25%, is something called Super Mut. When you put all these pieces together it turns into Hercules. Now we know.
But does it matter?
People seem to have a need to categorize, to put labels, on others. They even find they need to put labels on pets. As if the label guarantees a certain standard; a certain type of behavior and outlook.
People do this to each other, but, usually, in more subtle ways. When you meet someone do you ask yourself: ‘What type of person is this?’
Are there assumptions based on appearance. Conclusions determined by geographic or financial background?
It seems we have a need to label people. To live in and group individuals into larger packs.
Are you like me or like them?
Are you black, white or something else?
Are you of Asian, Italian, Greek, Irish, Hispanic descent?
Or, God forbid, are you a Democrat or a Republican. Are you a Progressive or, I guess, a Regressive?
What if we dumped the labels that are fed to us? Maybe we should be wondering about: kindness, generosity, selfishness, evil… All of these people are out there, both the good and the bad. Luckily, I’ve met many more good ones.
I suppose its easier to consider people in groups rather than as individuals. All red-headed people of Italian/English decent must be ??? All, (fill in the blank), are good/evil, generous/selfish, patient/impatient.
When I listed Hercules’ genetics were your assumptions predetermined? Maybe you smiled at the Labrador but cringed at the Pit Bull. Did you reach a conclusion fed to you by what you’ve heard rather than what you’ve experienced?
So, what kind of dog is that?