family life

Appalachian porch dog

“Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.” Groucho Marx

Sometimes you just have to wonder. Two days after we brought our beloved Miles home from the animal shelter, he sauntered into the garden, raised his snout and began an elaborate sequence of bays and yips that went on for about two minutes. Clearly done, he resumed sniffing, then settled onto the deck with a contented sigh.

A typical Miles moment. If he hears the rustle of a leash or someone putting on sneakers, he’s off like a rocket, however.

“What was that?” My husband, a behavioral ecologist, was intrigued. “Do you think he was actually telling the other neighborhood dogs who he is or where he is?”

Whatever it was, we’ll probably never know. Not only did he never repeat the performance, he never bayed again. That was our single clue that his ancestry must include a beagle or some kind of hound that can actually make that noise.

Over the years, other hints of breed have surfaced. He watches for hand and eye signals, leaping to the front door if he sees anyone even touch a sneaker. And, he herds — people, trees, park benches — speeding around his “sheep” in an ever-tightening circle and coming to an abrupt, belly-on-the-grass stop when he’s satisfied that everything is where it should be.

Border collie.

Yet, he turns into a nearly feral coyote-like creature when he’s hiking off leash. And, he doesn’t track us through the house like herding dogs usually do. He is, in fact, wherever he wants to be, whenever he wants to be. And, he smiles. He literally smiles.

Cheshire cat?

We eventually gave up on trying to guess his pedigree. Whenever anyone asks us what our fluffy, many-colored, bandana-wearing dog is, we simply say, “Appalachian porch dog.” The kind of people who find today’s quote amusing generally smile.

One year, that was his official breed designation at the county courthouse. I’m guessing there was a kindred spirit in the assessor’s office. Or, we’ve somehow become hipsters when our teenagers weren’t looking. Or, the AKC has finally caught on to a good thing.

Again, we may never know.

16 thoughts on “Appalachian porch dog”

  1. He sounds like a real character. Their funny little ways are fascinating, especially if you don’t know everything about their past, but each one is a special gift. We don’t have a dog, but my parents did, for many years & I know quite a few folks who have dogs that I can make a fuss of 😊

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Friends’ dogs are good, too. Plus, you don’t have to worry when you travel. I can’t imagine not having one in the house, though. They’re such good company. 🙂


  2. You have written very well about border collie. My boy was also a border collie who lived with me for 13 years. He is gone almost for 10 months now but he still lives in my heart. I miss him.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. 🙂 Thanks. Doggies are family, aren’t they? They really do live forever in our hearts. Miles is particularly glad to see us again. We were gone for several days for a church camp. It was wonderful, but I am sleeeeeeepy! I was the cabin leader for the middle school girls. They have a lot of energy.

      Liked by 1 person

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