a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: Childhood (and adult) Influences

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Childhood (and adult) Influences

SUMMARY: How did I end up with the breeds I did?

As a kid, I loved German Shepherds from Rin Tin Tin reruns and Lassie from, yeh, Lassie reruns. Hence, wanted:
  • A German Shepherd  (GSD)
  • A Collie
So my parents started getting me Albert Peyson Terhune books, which I read and reread (and it was his Grey Dawn that made me decide I wanted a blue merle when I grew up). So I wanted:
  • [Replacing "Colllie"] A blue merle Collie
I also read all the other dog fiction in the elementary school library (oddly, although I read all of Jim Kjelgaard's dog fiction, I did *not* decide I wanted an Irish Setter. Maybe because a neighbor down the street had one and although he was sweet, he was also a gangly doufus). Everyone knew they could get me a book about dogs or dog breeds as gifts and I'd be happy. I could list all the AKC breeds in each of the groups from memory. (Wish I'd known that non-AKC breeds even existed back then! Americans are so unaware of the other few hundred breeds out there!) So it was confirmed that I wanted:
  • A dog of any kind
When I was maybe in 5th grade, we got a big yellow Collie/Shepherd mix (who was more like a big yellow collie in coat and shape). She was really smart and a lot of fun.  Oddly, I didn't have any interest in training of any kind.  I'm pretty sure that that had *no* influence *whatsoever* on my interest in:
  • Big yellow mixed-breed dogs
Then when I was in college, I saw a Golden working on obedience practice at a local field and fell in love with Golden Retrievers. Talked with his human quite a bit. So I added Golden Retriever to my Big Three list (including a GSD and a blue merle Collie):
  • A Golden Retriever
 THEN I saw a border collie working and learned more about them and so of course I wanted one of THOSE, probably more than I wanted a Collie collie (my sister got a tricolor Collie collie. Very smart. Demonstrably of the Lassie Come-Home ilk. But ugh, those heads and huge huge coats). So I wanted a:
  • [Replacing "Blue merle Collie"] A blue merle Border Collie
And eventually learned about Aussies and loved them, too, but that was after I grew up and had my first 2 dogs already, but before I knew about dog agility. And my sister had one, a beautiful red merle, smart, too. So now I *also* wanted:
  • Blue merle Australian Shepherd
After I started agility and realized that *everyone* had Border Collies or Shelties or Goldens or Corgis or whatever, I realized the great value of mixed breeds, which is that they don't look like anyone else's dogs! So I wanted
  • Emphasis on mixed breeds
After all those exposures, I've had:
  • A big yellow shepherd/golden mix (knew the parents), so I got a twofer
  • a blue/gray husky (my ex's choice, but my colors!), 
  • a sheltie mix, 
  • another big yellow Shepherd mix, 
  • a blue merle Aussie/husky mix, 
  • a blue merle border collie, 
  • and now two random mixes that fit only that qualification. (One is supposed to be a tricolor BC mix. Other supposed to be a big yellow whippet mix. Not sure whether I believe either of those.) 
How about you?


  1. I never had a list of breeds. I don't think, as a kid, I even really recognized breeds as separate from each other. As a group of kids, all four of us ranted about wanting a dog for years until finally my folks gave in and went to the 'pound' and got us a dog. Some sort of spaniel mix. We loved him instantly. He was our only family dog, out living all of us growing up and moving out. And I never had another dog until I got married in my mid 30s. Husband had a sheltie and the rest is history.

    1. I kinda think that breeds not being recognized as separate from each other is a cool thing--too *much* specialization for not really good reasons. But Shelties certainly have a good reason for existing. Besides being cute, I mean.