Aussie is probably the oddest dog you will ever meet. Her heritage is constantly up for debate, mainly because no one, not even the vet, knows what her mix is for sure. She’s listed on all her “official” paperwork (we travel, so vaccination records, health documents, etc. are a necessity) as a Basset Hound mix. The Basset Hound is clear. No one disputes it. She is long and short. It’s the other half that’s a mystery. In the past, guessing her mix has been a party game. I’m not joking, but laugh away. Guesses have included Labrador, Dalmatian and even Beagle. The two most common guesses are Bull Terrier (think the recent Target dog, or for those of us that predate that, Spuds McKenzie) and Pit Bull. Four out of five vets agree, one or both of these two are the most likely.
In my neighborhood her probable mix with Pit Bull gains her (and me by default) some respect. I live in ‘da hood, by almost any definition of that phrase. I believe (to co-op a term used by my friend Bon) the PC term is “transitional” or “recovering” neighborhood. But let’s be clear, it’s ‘da hood. Since moving here a few months ago I’ve had multiple offers to buy her and several requests to breed her. Why they would want to do that is beyond me, because she is really quite bizarre, in appearance and attitude.
A few facts about my dog:
-She is a rescue (technically I’m her fourth owner)
-She’s about 11 years old, and for 10 years and 3 months of her life she’s been with me
-She’s very very sweet, and generally well behaved in other people’s homes
-She’s very strong (47 pounds of fur, muscle and bone – my dog is in better shape than I am)
-She’s very smart
I have evidence of the last point. She speaks 3 languages (as alluded to by another friend): dog, English and Spanish. See, I was finishing up my BA in Spanish when I got her, and well, it’s my own damn fault. I spoke to her in Spanish and English, flagrantly disregarding the training tenet of consistency, and as a result, I have a dog that chooses which language she’s going to obey. She also has a full vocabulary of growls, grunts, barks, whines and sighs and anybody that spends any time with her at all starts to tell the difference between them quickly.
Further evidence of her intelligence can be witnessed in her ability to open things. This includes Tupperware containers (I still have the bowl for evidence, see picture below) and her kennel. We are on our third kennel (or crate, whichever term you prefer) because she learned to open the first two. All containers of food (hers or mine) are either out of doggie reach on the kitchen counter with no stool or chair nearby for her to use to get to it or have a locking or screw-top lid.
The downside to her intelligence is that it took me YEARS to train her. I’d tell her to do something and she’d give me this “you’ve got to be kidding me” look and do the EXACT opposite. I used every trick in the book to convince her that I’m the alpha dog in this pack of two and while it took time and patience, it did work. I have a remarkably well behaved dog and never have to worry about kids coming/running up to or climbing on her, other dogs, or taking her anywhere. Other animals are always welcome in our home (yes, even cats, I used to have one but more on her another time). The only exception to this rule are chipmunks. Aussie hates chipmunks. I can’t explain it, but you’ve been warned.
The one thing that no one ever believes is that I “bought” her (i.e. paid a very small adoption fee) sight unseen. Yes, it’s true. Although her odd appearance wouldn’t have mattered because as everyone tells me, she’s completely adorable. I got her from a terrier rescue organization in the Pacific Northwest and I chose her entirely based on personality. I knew what kind of dog I wanted, specifically, one that could roll with the punches and deal with change. And she does deal with change. Nothing fazes this dog. Seriously. I’ve driven with her cross country more than once, we’ve moved over 5 times (I’m counting states, not apartments/homes), I’ve flown her several times (including once to Australia) and none of it has seemed to affect her one bit. And I’m grateful for that. So very very grateful.
I can’t imagine or even remember life without her. And I don’t want to. Aussie makes me laugh on a daily basis, snuggles when I need it and is truly a blessing in my life. I could go on for days and days about my dog, but suffice to say, she’s my baby dog. Needless to say, there will be more dog posts on this blog.