Several years ago I was walking Maggie in our little town and ran into a woman who was walking Maggie’s twin, a mostly black dog with some white markings.
“What kind of dog is yours?” the lady asked.
“They told us that she was a shepherd-boxer-akita mix at the shelter where we got her. Basically, she’s a mutt,” I said.
The woman smiled and said, “Mine, too!”
We stood and talked for a few minutes about how similar our unrelated dogs were. Unrelated, yet entirely related.
“Don’t you think,” she said, “that if we took all the dog genes in the world, put them in a big bag, shook them up and then pulled out a dog, it would look like this?”
I laughed and agreed.
Since that conversation I have noticed so many dogs that look like Maggie.
I suppose that would say that she’s a common dog.
But she isn’t.
Our neighbor who walks Maggie for us while we’re away — and sometimes, even when we’re aren’t — often comments on what a smart dog Maggie is. “I usually only have to tell her once and she minds right away,” she tells us.
Maggie is smart. And fun. And energetic.
She can sit, stay, shake, lie down, die, and come. She carries a fish on her walks, chases snowballs and squirrels, and howls at the noon whistle. When we come back from being away, she races around the house in a doggy-happy dance. What more does a dog need to do?
This past summer we got a kitten. She’s supposed to be a working cat, taking care of the mouse problem at my father’s house, but she’s still in training, slaying ladybugs and cluster flies in abundance.
She’s all black with a few white hairs like a little bow-tie.
Once we went on a field trip to a cat rescue organization and their shelter was full, mostly with black cats.
“They’re the hardest to adopt out,” the lady told us, “and seem to be the most common color.”
Our Piper was a freebie from a farm. When I took her to the vet, they asked for her breed.
“She’s just a cat,” I said.
I’m guessing that if you took all the cat genes in the world, put them in a bag, shook them up and pulled out a cat, it would be black.
But Piper likes to sit on my shoulder and lick my ears. She pounces on my feet from under the bed while I’m getting ready for bed. She snuggles on my lap in the morning, and rolls onto her back when my brother stops by so he can rub her belly. She is a special cat.
All this is to say that I think the least aspect of any creature is pedigree. Or color. Or any other externals.
What’s inside is unique and wonderful, waiting to be discovered and nurtured into maturity.