Monday, April 10, 2006

Doggies and kitties and monkeys, oh my!

OK, there are no monkeys in this post. I just wanted to say monkeys. Why? Because it makes me laugh. And you know what's even funnier than the word "monkeys"? The phrase "monkey pants."

It's late and I've been grading all day. I'm giddy with delirium.

Anyway, there's a point to this post. Pets. I've been gingerly broaching the topic of pets with the Boyfriend lately. I desperately miss having a cat so much that I still can't bring myself to get rid of my cat stuff, even though my dear Delphina departed almost four years ago. But Boyfriend is more of a dog person, and that' s OK with me because I like all animals. (Even goats, as you'll recall. And a friend once had a parrot who thought I was his girlfriend; I dug him, too.) I'm still trying to get the Boyfriend to warm up to cats, though, because I'd like one in addition to a dog. In fact, I really don't get the whole "cat person"/"dog person" standoff, frankly. I'm an equal opportunity fuzzy and feathery thing lover, and other creatures are pretty cool, too.

So lately I've been investigating dog breeds, looking for ones that get along with other creatures, that would enjoy a run with me so I can combine dog-walking duties with my running, and that aren't destructive diggers or noisy barkers. Oh, and cuteness is a plus, too. As a result of my preliminary research, I've become utterly obsessed with a rare breed called the Portuguese Water Dog. Go look -- how cute! Not only are they cute and fluffy, but they're supposedly smart, even-tempered, affectionate with humans and other creatures, eager to please, and quick to train. And they're working dogs, so they need a lot of exercise. (They don't have to get it in the water, though they'll happily dive right in.) They're also a 'hair' breed rather than a 'fur' breed, which means no dog-fur smell and no shedding (nor more than we lose our hair, that is), though they do have to have their hair cut like we do. And get this -- they have webbed feet! So not only are they cute and smart and gentle natured, they're freaks, too! They're like the bizarro-Golden Retriever or something. How could I not fall in love with them?

Seriously, leave it to me to fall in love with an odd, uncommon breed. Because, you see, it's not enough that I have to explain what I do for a living ("I teach and study medieval literature...no, older than Shakespeare...no, not 'mid evil'...Yes, 'normal' English majors take my classes...no, I don't play wenches at Ren Fests...No, I haven't read Dan Brown and don't intend to...") -- I also want to have to explain what breed my dog is, too. ("It's a Portuguese Water Dog...no, you're thinking of the jelly fish...no, it can't breath underwater...no I didn't give it a permanent; that's natural wave...yes, I realize our hair kind of matches...")

Anyway, if anyone out there has any first-hand experience with Portuguese Water Dogs, let me know the pros and cons of having one as pet, beyond the whole 'costs $1800' part, which I'm ignoring for the moment since I'm in the fantasy stage.

And yes, I'm going to do that Margery Kempe post. Really.

22 comments:

Murky Thoughts said...

I've fancied the idea of a standard poodle for awhile. Also alleged to be very smart and fur-free, as you probably know. I've met some very nice ones. Might be cheaper too ($1800 sounds kinda steep to me). Of course, price is secondary to fulfilling one's dog fantasies. My dog fantasy had always been to get a Newfie, but then my spouse read me from a book that made them sound like a nightmare.

J J Cohen said...

Ted Kennedy has a Portuguese Water Dog. He brings it to work with him and can often be spotted walking it near the Capitol.

David Martin said...

I am a reluctant PWD owner; my wife and daughter made the decision, not me. But I can confirm that the Porty is a well-mannered, friendly dog. Check out my blog "Living With Oreo" to see what may await you if you take the plunge.

Dr. Virago said...

God bless the blogosphere! Ask for information and you shall receive! David, I will add your blog to my Bloglines subscription -- thanks!

Or, I could e-mail Ted Kennedy. Not. :)

And MT -- I once dreamed of a Newfie, long ago, but yeah, Newfie and Bernards and their ilk are hard to manage. Standard Poodles are on my list, actually, but I'm just too obsessed with the PWD at the moment to think of anything else. If I had a poodle, though, I'd always get it a natural clip -- none of that pom-pom stuff!

New Kid on the Hallway said...

My sister housesat regularly for a PWD, and he was indeed lovely - smart, friendly, polite, energetic when you wanted. They sound like a good choice to me.

(Me, I'm probably going to go for a mutt when I'm able to go for dog ownership. Although the standard poodles are appealing, sans pom-poms!)

Dr. Virago said...

Wow, so many people have met/seen/owned a PWD! And here I thought they were rare!

Again, these here internets are a miraculous thing.

And New Kid, yeah, part of me thinks a rescue/pound dog is the best thing, since so many dogs need homes. (And kitties, too!) But with a cat that's not such a big deal, since the breeds aren't as distinct and don't have such a variety in personality types. With dogs, though, because they're high maintenance no matter what, and have such a range of personalities and behaviors, you really need to know what you're getting, I think. It's more like dating. ;) (Kidding!)

ceresina said...

And one more story:
There are people who kayak outside the San Fransisco baseball stadium & have their PWD chase after homers that hit the water.

Dr. Virago said...

How hilarious!

Another Damned Medievalist said...

There are tons of purebred dog rescues out there -- the best of both worlds. I love the standard poodles, myself. They're smarter than hell, though. But they are also good for running, from what I hear, so that's something to consider. I'm also very fond of chow-chows. They have very cat-like personalities, but sometimes have a bad reputation with insurance companies. Still, one of the best dogs I've ever lived with was a chow. They are just not very outgoing and tend to be one-family dogs. Not good for long runs, though.

Oh -- labradoodle.

Dr. Virago said...

Labradoodle? Tell me that's not a real combo breed! Hee hee!

And yes, I'll look into pure bred rescue groups -- not sure how much there'd be for the PWD, but definitely for more common breeds.

Chows bond to single humans and families so much that they can be aggressive to others -- that's why they've got a bad rep (like pit bulls). And they definitely do NOT get along with other small creatures. They're notorious cat killers, in fact. Of course, there are always individual exceptions. Still, not good for running.

Bardiac said...

I'm biased: I was given a 4 and a 1/2 year old lab some years ago, and fell in love with the breed. My guess is that a PWD would be sporty and fun to take around, a good size for being in a home and outside both.

But still, yellow lab... think about it! (I may be biased.)

I look at rescue sites occasionally, but I'm trying to resist so I can go teach in a program abroad one of these days.

New Kid on the Hallway said...

Oh, labs are awesome, no doubt about it! Personally, I react really badly to labs now, allergy-wise, or I'd be all over a lab.

I do know what you mean about knowing what you're getting with the breeds - assuming, of course, that you have a reliable breeder (otherwise you can get even more problems!). I think that I would adopt through a foster group and get a 1-2 year old dog, so that the foster family would have a pretty good sense of the dog's personality (those kinds of groups are really great). And I think I'd actually rather not cope with a puppy!

But I haven't ruled out getting a purebred, either. I think our top choice would be to adopt one or two retired racing greyhounds (they are actually WONDERFUL couch potato dogs! and I'll need a mellow dog) - the best of both worlds! We've always said that if we decide to get a purebred (not a greyhound) someday, we'd donate the same amount to a humane society.

Dr. Virago said...

I know someone (a medievalist) who has adopted a greyhound, but I don't think he'll be at K'zoo this year. If he is, I'll introduce you and you can ask him all about his dog.

What Now? said...

The only cat/dog comments I have are to 1) agree with you about the weird cat/dog split, which doesn't match up with how many people I know actually feel about pets, and 2) say that one of my colleagues got a labradoodle last year and loves it!

Here's why I'm really commenting: to second your monkey point. One of my theme songs for the year has been Ralph's World's "Just Like the Monkeys"; it's my mental "happy place" when things get rough at school.

Another Damned Medievalist said...

Labradoodles are real. And with the chows? my experience (best friend had two, one after the other, grandmother was raised with them) is that they are just fine with their cats ...

But they really aren't good for running. Standard poodles are. Plus they don't shed.

Dr. Virago said...

ADM -- Yes, now that WN and *two* *separate* people I know IRL have brought up labradoodles, I have since googled them and discovered they are real. And here I just wanted to give you credit for coming up with a very funny sounding breed! I half wonder if people first starting breeding labradoodles just because the name would be so funny!

Chows still make me nervous, but yes, I realize that even a dog like that can be raised with a cat and do OK.

Dr. Virago said...

And WN -- thanks for being the only person to mention/second my monkey point! Hee! I think everyone else is politely ignoring that bit. :)

Ancarett said...

I can recommend a GREAT PWD breeder who's an academic at my own university: look up "Mudlushes Reg'd" and the breed in google and you should come up with a useful listing.

Anonymous said...

Hi, just found your blog now, and I am a PWD owner! We have a brown portie puppy who is six months old. I can confirm that they are an awesome breed, but just be ready for a very ACTIVE puppy that constantly demands for attention and loves people.....and chewing.....oh my god the chewing!!! But keep them tired out and they are so lovely.....I wouldn't change him for the world, they are super smart and have amazing personalities! So much fun :)

Mike and Peter said...

Get one! Our Otis, now a year-and-a-half old, is the best, smartest, gentle, good-natured, fun, funny (did i say "smart"?). We did a lot of research too, and came up with the PWD breed. The best decision we ever made. Live in the South End of Boston (city) but two nearby parks where Otis can run and fetch tennis balls. He needs a couple of runs a day, but i never mind going out -- even in the rain -- because he enjoys it so. Let me know how it goes!

carletongardener said...

A great comment list! All these PWD owners have added their comments! I have a really wonderful water dog. His pictures are at my blog: Skippy's Backyard (Google it). He is the PERFECT dog for our family. BUT he needs 1-2 hours of off-leash walking per day. He needed ALOT of obedience work as a puppy, because he was very mouthy (biting) aggressive and stubborn. I still do obedience classes. On the plus side, he is a very smart, very affectionate, cute as can be, sociable, soft, hypoallergenic, good watchdog, etc, etc.....

PB said...

I am a first time owner of PWD. My dog is 7 months now and we got her from a reputable breeder. She is a working dog and requires lots of exercise. She is a wonderful dog. I would say that you have to be firm but fair with PWD. They are smart but will test your patience and will test to see how far they can push the limit. Visit PWD Club for more info at http://www.pwdca.org. You can view my dog pictures at http://burnspage.googlepages.com/home2