The Purebred and the Rescue

As people who know me could guess, I am a fan of the purebred. But I have had a lot of random-bred pets over my lifetime, so certainly appreciate them as well.  I think I was interested in purebred dogs from an early age.  I was a voracious reader and read books about Irish Setters, Cocker Spaniels, and the most telling for my future, books about Collies.

My first dog, Frosty, was a gift from my parents for my eighth birthday.  Mom told me that his mother was a cocker spaniel, but his father was unknown.  I spent lots of time poring over dog books looking for the breed that was his father.  Could he have been an English Setter?  Maybe a Golden Retriever, but no, Frosty is white.  I don’t think I ever really determined what he was and I’m sure now that he was a mix too!

Frosty and me

Frosty and me

My first cat, Melody, was a mix-bred brown classic tabby with a coat like a mink and what I now know as the mitted pattern of white.  She was so friendly and went everywhere with me and had no objection to the car.  When she was at home she was in my lap.  I got other mix-bred cats along the way, but none  of them had the personality of Melody.  When she passed at 19, I had two other cats, Chloe and Thumbalina, and Chloe did not like other pets being added to the household.  But I was researching purebreds to see what breed had the temperament like my sweet Melody.  So when Chloe passed a few years later, at age 17, she was barely cold in her grave when I was on the phone with a Ragdoll breeder in Rhode Island.  Finally, I could have another cat like Melody.

Melody the Wonderful

Melody the Wonderful

One of the benefits of the purebred dog or cat, is that you can tell what type of temperament they will have, and what they will look like.  This predictability is wonderful.  But I also love the pedigree itself.  It is, I suppose, like people who love genealogy. When I got my first Ragdoll, Blue Moon, I ordered a five generation pedigree and pored over the cats in it.  It actually helped me years later when I started breeding.  But I’m not sure very many people care about a pedigree on an altered pet cat!

When we started breeding alpacas (also purebred and registered), we wanted a livestock guardian dog.  We got two purebred LGDs, an Akbash Dog and a Great Pyrenees.  I also got the dog of my childhood dreams, a rough Collie.  All three breeds were bred for centuries to have temperaments that are safe around livestock.  But when the Great Pyrenees passed, I started looking for another dog, but wanted a rescue dog.  I found Big Fluffy Dog Rescue who focuses on, well, big fluffy dogs, which are often Great Pyrenees.  They had a picture of a dog with a huge bear head that looked like a Pyr, but was a golden color.  They thought he was a Great Pyrenees crossed with a Golden Retriever.  Livestock Guards are generally very independent, which means they do what they think they should do and not what you want them to do.  I thought, wow, the Golden is so trainable, now I can have a Pyr who will do what I want!  But when we got him, named by us Teddy Bear as we didn’t like his previous name of Fred, and before that Rhett, he was all Pyr in his head.  The only sign of the Golden was in his coat color and smaller size.  But the good thing was that the Pyr brain made him very safe around the alpacas.  Teddy Bear had been a stray in Tennessee and was very thin.  He still has an issue with food and is not a good eater.  Because with a rescue, you don’t know their backgrounds, they can have issues.  Teddy couldn’t be closed in the house at first.  He broke through numerous screens.  He didn’t, and still doesn’t, like being confined in the backyard fenced area and repeatedly got out.  He isn’t good on a leash at all and isn’t motivated by any training aid I can find.  Would a purebred Great Pyrenees have been easier?  Probably on the leash, yes, but they also are hard to keep confined!  There is a very good feeling you have when you rescue a dog or cat, even if they aren’t always what you expected they would be.

We are happy with our two dogs, for now, but the next dog we get will be another Collie.  I admire other breeds of cats, but expect I’ll always have Ragdolls.  But geez, I do love the mix-bred tuxedo cats with white …