Saturday, January 12, 2013

What Is That?

"What is that?" is one of the most frequent questions in my life with Barley.

For one, it's an awesome training tool we've been using since the last attempt at the TDI test.  After I told our wonderful trainer about Barley's rude behavior toward the jogger, she taught me how to use "What's that?" with Barley.  Basically, I point at something--a squirrel, a jogger, a dog that's far enough away it hasn't noticed us and therefore hasn't started barking yet--and say "What's that?" and Barley looks at the thing and instead of reacting negatively she looks at me and gets a treat.  It works beautifully--98% of the time.  Today, we even made it past a squirrel that was sitting a foot away from the edge of the sidewalk munching on an acorn.  Success.

More frequently, though, it's a question people ask while they point at Barley: "What is that?"

In fact, when I sent my mom a picture of Barley a few minutes after I signed the adoption papers for my discount doggy, it's exactly the response she gave me.
Barley's first picture: Looks like a dog to me.
Even the shelter couldn't decide what she was.  The dog license sheet and two other papers said her predominant breed was border collie.  Another sheet listed her as a border collie-blue tick coonhound mix--and while she's got the spots and the eyebrows of a coonhound, her body shape and her personality are anything but hound--this dog couldn't track something to save her life while my parents' dog tracks rabbits and deer that hopped through the neighborhood three days ago.  The vaccination sheet said she was a border collie-shepherd mix (although what kind of shepherd--German? Australian? Anatolian? English?--is still a mystery).  I'm guessing the collie-shepherd guess is probably closest to accurate.  The reality is that she's got a little head, a huge neck that gives her the appearance of a quadruple chin, a very wiggly body with a thick coat, and a curly tail that never stops moving.

Today, we were out walking (3.7 miles! We're not going to be able to take any days off in February if we are going to keep up our resolution!) and an old man was getting into his car as we walked by.  He stopped and said, "What is that?" I gave him my best guess and he said, "Well, that's a real nice dog you have there.  I like the curly tail."  A little while later, another man was sitting out on his front steps and said, "I see you walking all the time.  That's a really gorgeous dog you have there.  Just beautiful."  So, regardless of what she's made up of genetically, she's aesthetically pleasing.

Ever since my dad met Barley, he's been calling her a Wuzzle (how my dad can remember a tv show from 1985 that according to Wikipedia only had 13 episodes made is a question for another day).
After tracking down the theme song on YouTube, I think my dad is probably right.  Although, I also think she could actually be a tigger--after all, "their tops are made out of rubber, their bottoms are made out of springs. They're bouncy, trouncy, flouncy, pouncy, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun" and "They're loaded with vim and vigor. They love to leap in your laps."  Sound like a description of Barley if I ever heard one.

The truth is there's no telling what my Barley girl is and it really doesn't matter.  My dad sent me this The Other Coast comic (in addition to both being border collie mixes, Koko the comic dog and Barley have a lot in common, so I love when Dad includes these comics in his daily comic emails).
I've been a mutt person my whole life, and while I think many purebreds are gorgeous and know several people with wonderful purebred dogs (in fact, my best friend is getting an English Bulldog puppy as soon as she's ready to leave her mama--I'm going to have my first niece!), I really can't imagine ever being a purebred owner myself.  There's just too much fun and mystery in a mutt :)


  1. Aw, I love this post! You know I have a corgi obsession, but I gotta say I don't think I could have found a better dog than my mix :-)

    I love that Bar Bar is a wuzzle haha! Silly Dad.

    1. if we're going with the wuzzle theory, I think she's part alligator and part border collie. And you do have a pretty awesome little dorgi :)