Monday, November 8, 2010

Honey the Lion Hunter

“She’s out again!” my husband yelled through the front door on his way to work today.

I really don’t have the time or patience for this. For the third time today, I ran out and wrestled the dog to the ground, picked her up, and carried her into the house. Then I went out to inspect the fence again.

You really forget the troubles of puppy ownership when you have lost an old, tired dog and succeeded it with another. The housetraining, biting, jumping, whining, and escaping are all enough to make me not like the dog so much when she is misbehaving. Then she sits there cutely begging for a treat, or sleeping curled up on her doggie bed with her tongue hanging out, and she’s loveable again.

“Hound X” is the breed notated on her papers. Being a rescue dog, her exact origins will never be known to us. She has the qualities of a hound, Labrador, bulldog, with the webbed paws that only a few breeds boast of.

On Halloween, we had her walking with us when a neighbor stopped us.

“What kind of dog is that?” she asked.

“I don’t know. She’s a rescue dog.”

“I think she’s a Rhodesian Ridgeback?” she said.

“A what?” I questioned, and she repeated it.

“Your neighbor around the block has one. It’s huge. She has all the same characteristics – the markings, the ears, the webbed feet, and the coloring.”

I looked toward the corner just then and saw one of the hugest dogs I have ever laid eyes upon coming around with her owners. As they approached, I said, “Hey, someone just told me my dog is the same breed as yours.”

“Yep, she looks just like he did when he was a puppy. She’ll be a little smaller though – her paws are smaller.”

Their dog, besides being a male, was tremendously overweight. I let them sniff each other quickly and then, just as quickly, said goodbye. She hasn’t been spayed yet (a requisite for adopted rescue dogs) and I didn’t want to take any chances.

Once inside the house I looked up Rhodesian Ridgeback on the computer. This dog was bred in Africa to hunt lions. It is a brave dog and resistant to pests such as ticks. It is intelligent and great as an athletic trainer. The puppy pictures looked just like our Honey! The only thing she is missing is the “ridge”, which is a line of fur running opposite the rest of the coat on the spine. I read that this ridge is caused by a mutant gene but is a desired trait in the breed. The twenty-five percent that are born without the ridge are “culled” (sometimes that means “killed”) or removed from the breeding population.

So maybe Honey and her sister were purebred throwaways! Suddenly I saw her in a different light – she wasn’t just an unwanted mongrel but a potentially valuable dog. If she nipped at me I would say she was looking for a lion to hunt. I gave her some of the kids’ toy dinosaurs.

Why should her breed make a difference though? I started to get a little angry at whoever would get rid of a dog for the lack of a silly characteristic. A dog is a dog no matter where she came from and they all have lots of love to offer whoever wants to receive it.

"Also the animals possess a soul, and men must love and feel solidarity with our smaller brethren."
- Pope John Paul II

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