The Coolest Dog

June 13, 2004

I met the coolest dog in church today. The service was supposed to be in Thayer Park by the lake, and for weeks Robert had been saying, “Bring chairs, blankets, pets.” At least one dog was bound to show up, and he did. But the brisk wind coming off the lake drove the service indoors, and so I first laid eyes on Buddy in the Fellowship Hall. “This is the weirdest dog I have ever seen,” Robert noted at the beginning of the service. He had a case. From where I sat, this pooch looked like a dachshund on steroids. Dachshund front feet for sure, bent out at the all-but-impossible angle, but larger paws, and some other breed’s upper body altogether.

At the Church Picnic after the service, I got to meet Buddy, and chat with his owners about his mysterious, or at least improbable, origins. Buddy is half dachshund and half Labrador Retriever. He’s black with a Lab’s black coat, a blaze of white on his chest. He has a Lab’s head, and when he barks on rare occasion, it is a Lab bark. But he has a dachshund’s legs, and height-wise comes in somewhere between the two breeds, in a strange netherworld, too tall for a dachshund and too short for a Lab. When he rolled over on the grass, he rolled just like Gus, but when he stood up he looked as if two dogs had fought over the same body and both had lost.

Tribal knowledge tells us that Labradors love to swim and dachshunds can’t, so where does Buddy stand on the water? Up to his chest, the owner says, and you can almost see him thinking, “I love the water, I can’t swim, I love the water, I can’t swim,” before he comes back ashore to rest up from all that indecision.

Of course, I had to ask about the circumstances of Buddy’s parentage. Was his father an overachieving dachshund, or a Lab in love with someone his parents didn’t approve of? “We don’t know,” was the answer, “and we don’t even want to think about it.”

Buddy had no answers either. He was sniffing the air for hot dogs, panting, turning his head to watch children run by, accepting compliments, and casting an occasional, wistful glance at the lake.

* * *

Photo of Buddy thanks to Carolyn Legg; scan by  Jon “Johnny Scantastic” Cammarata.

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