In a previous post, you may have read about our new puppy Yvie. She’s an interesting little girl because she doesn’t really look like any dog we’re familiar with.
When we first saw her, we thought she might be a Belgian Malinois. She has the typical sable coloring, short hair, and slim body. But the shelter listed her as a German Shepherd mix. She was smart like a Malinois but didn’t have that high guarding energy. And she didn’t have the long hair of a German shepherd. Also, her round eyes and shorter snout indicated a touch of Australian cattle dog. Then the vet mentioned a Jack Russell terrier, which made me wonder even more.
Is This a Belgian Malinois? Or German Shepherd? Or Terrier?
Curious about her breed mix, we bought an Embark DNA test at the pet store and sent in the mouth swab. Now, the doggie DNA results are back, which both surprised us and confirmed some of what we guessed.
What is the Mix on This Breed?
First, let me ask, what’s your best guess? A Belgian Malinois has that short hair and sable coloring. My husband thought cattle dog from those round eyes and short snout but she was missing the thick body.
Well, Yvie is not fully either. She’s mostly German shepherd and Australian cattle dog, with a little terrier. This makes a lot of sense. She’s super smart like a shepherd and wants to stay busy like a cattle dog. And now that she’s about five months old, we can tell she probably won’t grow very tall. So she’s like an Australian cattle dog with, as the dog class teacher said, “deer legs.”
This matches with her active but highly focused personality. She loves to fetch and is always alert. And now that we know her breed, we understand her better. We get why she’s always looking for something to do. We get why she likes to stay near “her person.” We get why she likes to chew on her yak cheese sticks, which I can’t recommend enough for busy dogs.
One drawback is the DNA test wasn’t inexpensive, but I have to say it’s worth it. It helped us accommodate Yvie’s needs better. She now enjoys more food puzzles, more dog TV on youtube, and more walkies and fetch. And because she’s a happier dog, we’re happier humans!
Many of you know this last spring was a tough one for me and my family. My sister passed away from pancreatic cancer and my mother-in-law passed away from a stroke (we think). When that happened, I started searching for dogs to adopt online. I couldn’t help myself. I yearned for some spark of joy in my life. And our kids had been wanting a new pet for over a year. During the pandemic, we lost a dog and two cats. We were ready for a new addition.
But the time was never right. We encountered Covid, its mental health effects, my sister’s illness, my mother-in-law’s passing, travel, a new book release, family visits, and more. But now, fall is here, things have calmed, and we’re ready to bring new life and energy into our home.
Puppy or Grown Dog?
I hadn’t planned on adopting a new puppy. But when I saw this little furry face, I couldn’t resist. Neither could my husband or kids. She, along with her puppy siblings, were abandoned in the parking lot of the Seattle Humane Society. She was taken in at nine weeks old and we brought her home at ten weeks. While her information sheet lists her as a German Shepherd mix, we’re thinking she might be part Belgian Malinois, part Cattle Dog. Maybe with a touch of terrier or boxer? We’re not sure, but we love her nonetheless.
Because we’ve always given our dogs names that started with vowels, we decided to call her Yvette, and Yvie for short. She’s a beautiful girl, full of life and smarts. She already knows many commands and walks on a leash nicely enough. Her favorite thing though is going to outdoor restaurant patios and hanging with new people! She’s all waggy tails and licky when she makes human friends. And since she’s in puppy kindergarten, she’s been making friends with other doggos too.
If you have ideas about her breed, let me know! We just sent in our doggie DNA test so it’ll be interesting to learn the results in late October.
My friend once told me my dog Olive was sent to me by my dog Arrow. Arrow passed away about a month before Olive came into our lives. My friend speculated that Arrow knew I was upset about his passing and he wanted to console me with another mixed breed dog. Olive was a wiggly puppy, abandoned by the side of the road on New Year’s Day and found by a kind soul in the Seattle area. She was skinny and filthy and had fleas. But with a good bath and a lot of love, she recovered. In fact, once she landed in our house, she thrived.
Not a Reincarnation but Eerily Similar
Normally, I wouldn’t believe that a deceased dog could send a new dog to earth but there are a few uncanny similarities between Arrow and Olive. First, Arrow and Olive are both almost identically colored. Solidly orange-tan. The hair is similar length, medium, German Shepherd style. Though Arrow was part Dingo and had pointy ears, Olive is probably part terrier and has floppy ones. Second, they both have white patches on their chests and paws. And third, they smell exactly alike. My husband and I used to say Arrow smelled fresh, like hay, and Olive smells the exact same way. Fresh and like hay.
I had a deep attachment to Arrow. He was the coolest. Our friends used to say he had a special soul because he could hold a person’s gaze for a long time. He was soft and loyal and beautiful. He lived to almost 17 and when he died, I felt crushed. I thought we’d be together forever.
But not more than a month after he died, Olive popped up on a neighborhood list in need of a home. I ignored the mail for 4 or 5 days, thinking someone would swipe up the cute Shepherd mix. But no one did. That’s when I knew I had to check her out. When I visited her foster home, she nipped her little puppy teeth at my hand and tumbled around, wanting to play and follow me everywhere. I knew it was meant to be. So I took her home and now at almost 8 years old, she’s been our sweet puppy ever since.
Twins of Happiness
I’m not inclined to think heaven or hell exists but I do wonder at the work of the universe, whether some consciousness aligned events for me. Arrow brought joy to my world. And now Olive brings joy. And so, I’ll try to not over analyze and simply cherish the present experience of having known and knowing these two lovely doggie souls.
I’m writing this post so my cat doesn’t die. I’m superstitious. She’s been ill. She’s old. Her eating is spotty and she’s losing weight. If you’ve read any earlier posts, you know that she’s already been a miracle kitty, having died and then been revived on the exam table at the vet. I even wrote a short book inspired by the experience. Now in May, it’s been a year and a half since that incident. Every day with her has been a gift. But just recently she started refusing food and has declined in strength. So, as the day nears when my first traditionally published novel comes out, I fear she’s hanging on for me until this milestone.
You know how pets sometimes do that? They’re so loyal and loving, they instinctively know you need them and will hold on for you as long as they can. I can think of two stories off the top of my head when this happened to people I knew. And I’m afraid my dear cat Maddie is doing the same.
A Long Journey Together
I don’t want Maddie to die — ever. She’s a good-natured beauty who came to us as a six-month-old stray when my dog Arrow cornered her. She’s lived a life of luxury and happiness since. She knows she’s beautiful and has used it to her advantage in the past. In fact, her nickname is Khaleesi. But she’s also provided us with unwavering affection over the years as my husband went through cancer treatment and we suddenly brought home three adopted children. She’s tolerated living with four dogs over the course of a decade too. And one very grumpy cat who she never liked much. At night, she snuggles by my head in bed and during the day, curls up in my arms.
So, as she loses weight and I call the vet every few days, please pray or think good thoughts for us. She has a thyroid condition and mild kidney disease. She’s weak but sometimes attentive. I know she can’t live forever, but I hope the stars don’t align in a way that breaks my heart. It’s hard not to think only about myself here but at the same time, she’s a mere fourteen, which seems too young for such a sweet and otherwise healthy kitty to leave this earth. And so I write this post, thinking if I do write it, she’ll live through the summer and if I don’t, she won’t. We’ll see how the stars arrange themselves.
I had a busy and wonderful day today. Now I’m ready to fall asleep but before I do, I thought I’d do a quickie post about my dog Zeke. He’s big and black with pointy ears and a pointy nose, a Belgian Shepherd mix who stands as high as my mid-thigh. He has a direwolf nickname because he looks as imposing and wild as one.
Zeke was a shelter dog. He was about six months old when we got him and when we brought him home, chaos ensued. He barked at any “intruders” and tried to herd the kids. He was alert and super smart. I never had to train him because if I gave a command just a few times, he understood and obeyed. On meeting our female dog, Olive, he wagged his tail and ran hard with her, barking and yelping with joy. They’d chase crows across the yard, watch for squirrels, bark at the calls of other dogs. For years, they tore apart one section of lawn with their wrestling until I used a temporary fence to block it off. They brought the hijinks inside too. I’ll never forget when their rough housing knocked over a lamp and crashed its ceramic shade to bits. They had the most comically shocked look on their faces. It was insane and delightful.
Fading to Black
At night, when I let him out to go potty, he trots down the steps and fades into the night. Completely disappears. If I want to find him, I have to get out the flashlight and connect with his glowing dog eyes. This has spawned the nickname Shadow, which I think of as his Game of Thrones name. If he were a part of that world, that’s who’d be, almost like Ghost’s opposite. Though in personality he’d be just as loyal and dedicated. He’s a gem.