Friday, November 20, 2009

Our New Family Member, the Second

We did some research on Leonbergers to see if what we'd been sold was indeed what it was billed to be. Didn't really matter, of course, as he was the cutest puppy ever and we loved him no matter what his breed. However, we thought it would be nice to know if he was going to be as large as we hoped, or top out at largish medium dog like his big "sister."

Leonbergers, in addition to being a fairly rare breed in this country, have a diversity of appearance in both puppy and adult form, so much so that even with the similarities in coloration it was hard to say if Moose was a Leo, even only in part. Our vet was no help either, saying we just needed to pay attention to what physical characteristics he showed or developed and compare those to his alleged breed stats. Unfortunately, most of these (black muzzle, black tipped ears, white tip on the tail) also match a number of other breeds. And that tail was suspiciously curly. In fact, if not for his face, he had kind of a puggish sort of build, though no other pug features.

"Oh, he's probably a pug/German Shepherd half-breed," I suggested, much to the wife's dismay. She was already beginning to suspect him to be some kind of Shepherd/Chow combo.

"Don't do that near a chow," I said.

"What?" she understandably replied.

"Oh, I didn't tell you that story?" I said, referring to the fact that I've told her most of my stories at least once and usually thrice.

The story goes that back during my first junior year of college, I went with my friends Joe and Sujay to hang out in Atlanta for several days during spring break. (Side story: this was the very trip during which I composed and unleashed the second loudest and longest power-belch of my life, the now legendary I'M OUT OF SCHOOL belch, the recipe for which consisted of Sour Cream & Onion Pringles and generic Jitney Jungle brand Sprite. It was a belch worthy of an artistic grant.) Being poor college students, we stayed with Joe's elderly great aunt and went out via car or walked to the nearest Marta station, a couple miles away. During our initial hike to the Marta station, we were traveling down a sidewalk when we saw that ahead of us was a section of the sidewalk that was being regularly drenched by an overzealous yard sprinkler. In order to make it across the long stretch of moistened concrete without getting wet ourselves, we knew we would have to be swift of foot. And, seeing that the sprinkler stream was even then on a course back toward the sidewalk, we hoofed it quickly across. Now, what we didn't really notice was that ahead of us, beyond the moistened sidewalk, was a woman in her mid to late 30s walking a Chow. And, not having noticed her, we didn't take into account that three youths of indeterminate racial background (Sujay is east Indian, Joe has some Cherokee in him somewhere and I'm a squat, hairy, Franco/German honky) approaching at top speed would be the sort of thing that might cause her a bit of alarm. She gave us a fearful look, then, seeing that we weren't about to assault her, gave us an angry one.

"Don't do that near a chow!" she spat. Meanwhile, her dog was very calmly--some might say sleepily--paying us little mind, was barely bothering to sniff our air, let alone bark, and seemed the least-threatening beast any of us had ever encountered. While we quickly realized we should never have come running up behind her the way we did, her projection of viciousness onto that particular chow struck us as very funny and we spent the rest of the week--nay, the next several years--often repeating "Don't do that near a chow" whenever we were around each other.

I didn't much like the idea of Moose being a chow (you know, other than it would give me a constant source of reason for saying "Don't do that near a chow") but not because of any hatred of the breed. Mostly, I just don't like paying for one thing and getting something else. I was mostly content with assuming whoever had dumped Moose and his siblings off at theanimal shelter had known the parentage of the pups beforehand.

The wife, continued her image research online and was actually able to find pictures of German Shepherd puppies, chow puppies and German Shepherd/chow puppies that looked remarkably like Moose. His coloration is very German Shepherd, come to think of it, down to the light patches on his sides, (though Leonbergers often have this as well).

"He doesn't have a black or blue tongue," I countered to the chow argument. Turns out I was wrong on this, though only partially. Moose's tongue does have a blue spot on its tip, which the chow sites say begins to form on chow puppy tongues at about his age. However, the Leonberger sites say exactly the same thing as well, since Newfies--part of the Leonberger mix--can also have dark tongues. As of this writing we still don't know what the hell he is. We're pretty sure that whatever breed he is, he ain't part Saint. He's also a vocal force to be reckoned with and can emit the most entertaining growly sounds you'd ever care to hear and sometimes seems to argue with you, if you're not doing what he wants you to. And he often follows up these howls with a sharp bite.

And, of course, there is the matter of his leavings.



crsunlimited said...

Sorry to say. He does look very CHOW. Had a close friend who had 2 of them. I don't know what size Saddie is but Bearbear (so named because he looked like a teady bear walking on all fours) was just under waist high, and could put most linebackers to shame when it came to food, or welcoming someone in the door.

Now I'm not sorry because I think Chows are bad. Just that you probably don't have a St. Bernard on your hands. I had no idea more breeds then chow had black tongues. The blackish tongue with the tail that curls to lay on the back though is almost unmistakably chow.

A side note: Chow hair is always on permanent frizz. They are the permanent afro wearing dogs.

BevB said...

Whatever his breed, he's too darned cute for words!

Heather said...

My sister just adopted a puppy that's thought to be either chow/lab or chow/shepard...looks just like yours. The leonberger puppies I've researched look just like him too...but they seem to have much bigger paws...your puppy doesn't seem to have huge paws.

Anonymous said...

Hey I know its been a year since you posted this. Just curious if you ever figured out what breed your dog is. We've had a Bernard/chow mix for 7 years now and looked like this when he was a pup without the blackish ears and face. He and our female white shepherd just had pups and 4 of the 8 look like you dog. :0)

Juice S. Aaron said...

Nope. We still haven't figured out what Moose is. And we're pretty sure he's not Anatolian or Leonberger, cause he has remained a small to midling sized dog.

He could possibly have chow in him, as he does have a spotty tongue and a curly tail, but he doesn't have any of the chow's usual personality quirks and isn't as big as one either.

We just think of him as a moosey dog.

Elizabeth said...

We have a German Shepherd/chow mix, and that looks exactly like our dog!! She's the best dog we have though (we have 3). Yes, she has a personality just like your dog.

laurendean13 said...

Yes this is a chow/German Shepard puppy, mine looked IDENTICAL! She is only up to my thigh, and she is 40 lbs. She is just over a year old. And she is VERY just wanting to please. She is really trainable too.

Juice S. Aaron said...


I'll have to post a picture, but Moose is now 2 years old and is still only about 35 pounds. I'm thinking he's not full on shepherd/chow, though there's certainly room for a little of either breed in there with probably something smaller.

He does have some purple spots on his tongue, like a chow, and has the curly tail, but his temperament is still very very sweet. He is an eager to please pooch

The animal shelter we got him from thought he would reach 180 pounds, but he's still only 35 at most.