For over 30 years, we have been involved with animal rescue. We have "specialized", if you don't count the cats, and adopted only one breed of dog - the Keeshond.
Keeshonden (plural) are the whole package. Smart, and beautiful; with lovely temperaments. They are wonderful with kids. They are vigilant to a fault, and will tell you about every leaf blowing across the grass. They are so pretty that people will stop you on the street to ask about them.
And they don't take abandonment well, at all.
These are not dogs to chain to a tree out front. They want to have conversation over a nice bottle of Merlot. They want to discuss preparation methods for cauliflower. They know that half of the bed belongs to them; and there is no good reason they can't ride along to the dry cleaner. Some people just don't want to have that level of involvement with a four-legged creature; hence the need for Keeshond rescue.
We have adopted puppy mill mommas who never heard a human voice until they were too old to have puppies; and have no concept of speech. We have parented a retired Canadian/American Double Champion, after her puppy-bearing days were behind her. We have gone tooth-and-nail with this beautiful, brilliant and extremely bossy brown version of the breed:
And then, there is Hope.
We got a call quite a few years ago, that a "Keeshond" was wandering around a race track in North Georgia. She had been taken to the local animal control shelter; and, well...let's just say her "expiration date" was fast approaching. Would I go get her? The rescue coordinator had been assured she was a "purebred."
Well, a "purebred" something. My two hour drive north was uneventful. South, it appeared, was going to be a different story.
This "Keeshond" was about 1/2 the size of a normal Kees. One ear stood up, the other did not. She had just about no fur, lots of freckles, a mouth full of broken teeth, and a personality as big as Montana. She also stunk to high heaven.
The drive south was excruciating. Stink and toenails. The stinky little thing wanted to stand on my lap, and clearly had no concept of manual transmission. I stopped by the office of my Sister-In-Law-The-Vet on the way back. Hope had diarrhea in the waiting room, got some antibiotics and a once-over. SIL asked, "What IS she?" My response, "I have no idea. How old do you think she is?" SIL looked at her broken teeth and replied, "Well, she could be two. She could be ten. I don't know." It was clear that she was not going to be the star of the Keeshond Rescue website.
That was nearly 10 years ago. We have been wondering and wondering about this odd, grumpy, feisty, rode-hard-and-put-up-wet little excuse-for-a-Keeshond. She has none of the attributes - although she is gray, as they generally are - and a whole bunch of "otherness" in her compact self. I have always referred to her as "a bag of sticks", because she has bones sticking out everywhere. But I just heard a better expression..."a bag of antlers." Which describes Hope perfectly.
For Christmas this year, my mother got a DNA kit to test the genetic makeup of her Great-Dane-With-an-Underbite mutt. Who would have guessed? Boxer - of course, underbite. And Rhodesian Ridgeback? Come on, how likely is it that a Rhodesian Ridgeback is just wandering around, waiting for a boxer to come along to make really odd-looking puppies? But I fell for it, swabbed the inside of Hope's cheek with the "polyester swab" guaranteed not to cause any lasting damage. And now we are waiting, waiting. I'm just not sure how I will explain to her that we are not her "real" parents.
Stay tuned. And feel free to place bets here.
7 months ago