Before I actually owned a dog, and before I started coming to the dog park, I had very definite ideas of what dogs I liked and which I didn’t. I loved golden retrievers and labs– who doesn’t? Bichons, if they didn’t bark too much, were cute little fluff balls. Cocker spaniels– and springer spaniels– were cute and fun. And of course anything out of Disney Central Casting– in other words, anything of undetermined heritage and looking like a loveable moppet– was a something I had to stop and pat. Basically I was a sucker for anything with long fur and liquid eyes, and breeds that wag their tails a lot.
Then there were the dogs I didn’t like. I didn’t like small dogs like Chihuahas and poodles. They yap. And they bite. Pugs and chows were ugly. German shepherds, Doberman, and rottweilers were vicious. And of course pit bulls were pure evil.
How tastes have changed.
The dog park has taught me that while, yes, there is breed temperament, there is also individual personality. Thus you have Rosa, the cutest and funniest Chihuahua you’ve ever met. She’s playful and funny and watching her take on dogs five times her size– and win– is hilarious. You have Hercules, a part-pit bull who rams his head against my leg, demanding I play tug-of-war with him and his rubber bowling pin. I’ve seen other dogs grab the bowling pin when Hercules drops it, and contrary to pit bull stereotype, he doesn’t go on the attack. He merely chases the offender and wrestles it back, without even a hint of a nip.
Why on earth did I ever think pugs are ugly? They grin, with their tongues hanging out the sides of their mouths, and they’re always good for lots of affection. They love to jump on a bench and curl up next to you for some loves, or stand on their hind legs with their front paws on your knees, wagging their whole bums with tails too short to wag independently. What could be cuter than that?
Well, maybe a Wheaton terrier who’s just gotten a buzz cut…
I still love labs and retrievers, and I think I’ve made my feelings about Bernese mountain dogs clear. My heart has merely expanded to encompass breeds I never considered worthy of attention before. Mea culpa– I was ignorant. I’ve always known not to be racist, to judge people based on colour or ethnicity…. well, I’ve learned the same lesson about dogs now. Don’t judge a dog by its breed– they are all individuals, just like us. Except cuter.