Monday, March 09, 2009

city dogs and country dogs

I was thinking about the difference between city dogs and country dogs, when I was walking into town yesterday. My daughter's dog, Pepe, seen above in a nest of down comforter, is definitely a city dog.

Though we both harbor the fantasy of buying land in the country, partly so Pepe could just run outside whenever he wanted to pee, I don't think he would last more than a few days. There was an eagle drifting overhead as I was walking into town and I think Pepe would look like a great snack to an eagle. Ditto to an owl. Last night one of the resident owls at Hedgebrook ate one of the resident bunnies.

It struck me that a dog like a Chihuahua (and probably other toy dogs), are designed to be city dogs. They are status symbols, like long fingernails or white carpets, that say, I don't have a dirty job. They signal class and wealth, which is probably why Paris Hilton flaunts them. (I'm not sure what Mickey Rourke is doing with a Chihuahua, but it is adorable to see that ravaged, rough-looking man cradling the small, big-eyed dog against his chest.)

The country dogs here seem to be working dogs, dogs like collies and shepherds that are bred for herding skills, or guard dogs, like the yappy Chow mix at the farm down the road. On my way back from town, I saw a border collie mix crossing the street in front of me. He just stopped in the middle, his ears cocked in my direction. He stood there for about 45 seconds, then loped up a long drive into the woods. About three minutes later, a car approached from town and turned up that same drive. The dog had apparently recognized the sound from miles away and was heading to his post, to greet the members of his family when they disembarked.


meggins said...

A friend in Tucson always accompanies her chihuahuas (two of them) outside. Both an owl and a hawk hunt her yard, so it's not safe for the dogs by night or day.

Another friend has her puppy in "puppy class" and reports that a big step forward for a chihuahua also in the class is simply sitting on the floor rather than being held by its owner.

That may be another reason for the chihuahua's popularity: they are eminently portable. Nor do they object, as the majority of cats would, to this treatment.

TopazTook said...

I think you left out the category of "small town" dogs: the ones that lie in the middle of the main street of the village near my husband's home family farm. They know all the cars, and that they will stop for them. (They also know where to place themselves so they're next to the stop sign.)

Waverly Fitzgerald said...

Thanks, I didn't know about small town dogs. perhaps that is a more accurate description of the dog I saw in the road who clearly knew what cars were coming when.

Meggins, I do agree the Chihuahua's portability is one of its most endearing features. They are much like cats, the way they love to sit in laps and sunbeams, but they have they also display proper dog behavior in their devotion.

Sia said...

Chihuahua's were thought to have healing powers. I rather think that Mr. R. has found that to be true.

Alyss said...

About a year before I got my dog I was begging a friend to give me her chihuahua. She had two big dogs that she loved, a six year old and a baby on the way. The chihuahua was an extra burden on their family and they were not able to meet his needs. Her husband huffed and puffed about "giving away pets sets a bad example for the kids". A year later, after I graduated and moved away they gave the chi to someone who really was able to care for him. I often wonder what my life would be like if I was a chihuahua owner instead of a lab owner :)
My lab is a very suburban dog - whe doesn't go anywhere unaccompanied, but loves walks in the woods and hates loud traffic. I took my dog to visit a friend of mine who lives 10 miles past the end of the pavement in a national forest a couple months ago. During the day Tumalo loved it. She ran with the resident dogs in their field, chased gophers and deer and had a blast. "Mom, can you believe where these dogs live?? Can we stay??" At night, though, she looked at horror at the place those dogs slept... "You mean those dogs have to sleep under the porch?? Outside??? Not under the covers?!?!?!" Yeah, she doesn't really want to be a country dog :)

Waverly said...

It is fun to think of how our dogs change us. I had a lab too (Chester was a lab/spaniel mix) and he loved the woods. He loved riding in cars too and he would really "light up" when we got into the country. He also loved to eat. Pepe, the chihuahua, is quite the opposite. He hates riding in the car, walking in the rain, wearing clothes and going to the country. He likes sitting in the sun (preferably on the back of the sofa or in the grass on a sunny day), playing with his stuffed toys and sitting on laps.

Waverly Fitzgerald said...

I think you're right about Mr. R.

I love your story of the city dog who thinks he wants to be a country dog until he sees what the nights are like. I'm pretty much the same way. Actually my lab/spaniel mix, Chester, loved the woods too but never had to experience the indignity of sleeping outdoors.