My immensely friendly little whippet was doing her usual meetand-greet in the park, racing up to total strangers – whippets reach top speeds of 50km/h – and terrifying their Maltese poodles in her bid to say hello.
A man with a dog stopped to give her a pat and asked what breed she was. Now, my dogs are all waifs and strays who were rescued in adulthood and I can only guess, based on what I see.
The nervous one with spots is probably an English pointer, somewhat stunted through early malnutrition; the one rolling in dead frog is possibly an English pointer crossed with something else, a staffie perhaps.
Basically, she’s a pavement special and she’s perfect. Except when she smells of corpse. The man had a dog, too, a happy, orangey thing with oddly long legs, wearing the incongruous face of a pug, like a mask.
What is he, I wondered? “Ah,” said the man proudly, “he’s a pugalier.” A what? “A pugalier: it’s a special crossbreed of a Cavalier King Charles spaniel and a pug.” I smiled.
Inside I said: “It’s a mongrel, buddy, a mutt. You could have stopped talking at crossbreed.” Recently, I had a similar conversation with a woman who told me her dog was a cockapoo: a mix between a cocker spaniel and a poodle.
I googled it: it’s a thing, and also a favourite among unscrupulous puppy farmers for making a quick buck. It’s a real trend at the moment, this desire for designer dogs: while they may be much-loved at home, they’re also the ultimate fashion accessory.
And, naturally, they cost a fortune. There’s the schnoodle (a schnauzer-poodle), the pomsky (a Pomeranian-husky), the puggle (a beagle-pug), the golden doodle (golden retriever-poodle), and even the jug (a Jack Russell-pug).
And then, you know what else there is? There’s your local pound, SPCA or animal charity, packed with amazing cross-breeds desperate for happy homes. It’s the ethical choice and, in my experience, there’s simply no finer breed than the pound puppy.