Every day reveals another layer of Schuyler. She’s no longer Mama dog – as we’d taken to calling her when she arrived with her brood of nine pups. Now she’s Schuyler or Sky. Her mothering duties are over and she’s even beginning to regain her girlish figure.
She’s ready to be a dog instead of a mama. This means she tearing up toys/stuffed animals/pens/pencils/egg cartons (plus the eggs inside them – who left that on that counter???). She is not just a chewer; she is a destroyer. So far, the saving grace has been KONG toys – she can’t make a dent in them and is happy to gnaw away for hours in her efforts.
When we are asked her breed, I always say “dog” because other than her kind-of-lab-like appearance there hasn’t been anything to suggest a particular breed. Lab mix is the default breed for rescue dogs with short, dark hair and a medium-large size. We’ve had lots of ‘lab mixes’ and they’ve covered a range of personalities and sizes. I’m not suggesting she isn’t lab, but I could easily agree she’s nearly any breed you want to suggest. She’s a classic mutt. I happen to love mutts, so I see that as just one more of her many attributes.
All of that said, I’m beginning to think there could be some kind of border collie/shepherd in her, short hair and all. I have two pieces of evidence to suggest this.
First, she is devoted. I’ve read/heard that working dogs tend to fixate on one person and give their complete attention/devotion/affection to that person.
Schuyler loves me. Nevermind that Nick spends more time with her than any of the other dogs we’ve fostered, and suggests almost daily that we should keep her (we won’t). Schuyler likes him very much, even giving off a little squeal when she sees him pull in the driveway. She likes Ian, too, greeting him with happy wags when he appears. She even likes Addie, who takes loud offense at Schuyler’s friendly, snuffly nose.
But she has chosen me.
When I work in the kitchen, I can feel her eyes following my every move. When I go outside, I have to lock the door because she quickly figured out how to work the lever handle door so she could let herself out to follow me. While I do barn work or garden work, she waits at the kitchen door, watching, vigilant. If she catches sight of me, her excitement spills over. Here’s a video of Schuyler reacting to spotting me moving around outside:
That video shows you how athletic Schuyler is, and she’s getting stronger every day. We’ve been running together regularly and she’s up to about 3.5 miles. She loves our runs and bounds out the door in the morning like a puppy jumping around in her excitement. She will make an excellent exercise buddy.
The other factor that makes me think she has some kind of herding dog in her, is her pursuit of the cats and the horses. She crouches low to the ground, eyes intensely focused as she creeps towards them. She reminds me of the border collies we fostered last summer. When she makes contact with one of the cats and it doesn’t move, she’s frustrated. She doesn’t want to eat the cat; she wants to run after the cat. I haven’t allowed her to have contact with the horses, but as we pass by their fence on our walks, she again freezes and crouches as if she is ready to pursue them, too.
There’s no way to know what breed Schuyler’s relatives are, but I know a few other things about them, whoever they are, beyond their devotion, athleticism, and herding urges. They are also smart, loyal, and obedient because those are three qualities that this special girl has in spades.
Schuyler will be with us for a few more weeks until she can be spayed and then she is hopefully off to her forever home where she can shower her world-class devotion on her new forever parents.
And because everyone keeps asking, I thought I’d share the puppy-father’s picture with you. There’s nothing else in the picture for reference, but I’ve been told he’s quite a big larger than Schuyler. He still resides in North Carolina with his irresponsible owner who has not neutered him. Which means the Hamilton puppies probably already have half-siblings on the way. Please, please, please spay and neuter your pets!