I neglected to tell Stephen when he started walking Louis that he would, occasionally, be approached by people who would want to know what, exactly, Louis was.
Louis is a dog. The rest, evidently, is theory.
The story within this story goes like this:
It was a breezy day with bitter wind and I was standing in line at Sherbourne station waiting for my turn to procure a TTC ID card. The line wound outside the station and up and down the street, and seemed determined to circle the entire block. People began to envy my spot, which had started at the end. They gave us forms to fill out while we waited. It didn’t help.
I called Stephen to let him know I’d be home in exactly forever.
“You missed it! I’m out walking Lou. And this old lady just came up to me and practically started yelling at me!”
“I had my earphones on. She came up to me and she pointed to Lou and was like, ‘what kind of dog is that?’ I took off my earphones and told her he’s a dachshund, and she was like ‘NO!’”
“Yes! ‘NO. That dog is not a dachshund. Not a pure dachshund. He’s more di-di dinsmont’…or something. I think that’s what she said.”
“Was it dandie dinmont?”
I wish this dog were a toy that I wished was real.
“Yes! That’s it. Then she was, like, ‘Are you sure he doesn’t have any dinmont in him?’”
“OK. What did you say?”
“That, ‘uh, his name is Louis.’ I had no idea what she was getting at!”
And she left. Stephen swears in was in “a huff.”
I will admit. Lou is a strange creature. Hard to pin down. Some days, his fur is more red than brown. Other days, it’s more of a kind of yellow. Tawny? He’s too small to be the standard of his breed and too big to be a miniature. If I had to say, I’d say is ears are a little short and his legs are longer than they should be, for him to be what he is.
Dachshund 4. Black & White Engraving from Cassell's The Book of the Dog, 1881
Officially, he is listed as “wirehaired dachshund” (for licensing and identification purposes), but I often have to add, “he’s probably got some Jack Russell…or something…in him,” to satisfy non-believers.
They are often not without their own theories:
Jack Russell…Corgi…Fox Terrier…Border Terrier…Beagle… Basset Hound…Cairn Terrier…Schnauzer…Norwich Terrier…Irish Terrier…Scottish Terrier.
People see what they want to see.
I get “Chinese” a lot. But not always. When Stephen and I drove up North, clerks asked me for my native card. I have been mistaken as Korean aboard and at home. Once on campus, a guy asked if I was Laotian, and I was flattered, somehow, by the novelty. There are those, of course, who pinpoint Vietnamese. But the more astute among them want to then know: North or South?
It happens all the time.
Why not? The benefit of a doubt is the proof of certainty.
If it’s not a golden retriever, it might be a yellow lab. If not a lab, perhaps a lab mix? There is slim, very slight chance it’s a pit bull – more likely, if anything, it’s part pit bull – but it’s surely not a bull mastiff.
Why? Goldens are loyal. Yellow Labs are courageous. Pit bulls are tenacious. Bull Mastiffs are devoted. To a fault.
There’s no guarantee of all this, of course, but chances are…
And then? Life goes on!
Hey. Here! I am, actually, part Chinese! If that helps.
But I don’t know kung fu. My brother does, a little.
Maybe that’s why the old lady got so agitated. Maybe that’s all she wanted.
That’s what it all boils down to, right? In the end?
Reassurance. Confirmation. Meaning.