Warning: much that follows will seem like gushing because it is gushing.
This is Duke.
I am in love with him.
We found him at the local SPCA shelter the weekend after our fence was installed, and in a funny twist, it turns out he was turned in to the shelter the same weekend we signed the contract for the fence. It's almost as though he was waiting for us.
The shelter identified him as a shepherd mix, but according to our vet, the SPCA seems to use 'shepherd mix' as the default label for brown and brindle mutts, so we shouldn't take the shelter's word too seriously. We have all been having a good time playing 'guess the mix,' anyway. I do not see a lot of shepherd, to be honest. I see hound -- coonhound or maybe bloodhound -- and I see Doberman. Certainly he didn't get those ears from any shepherd. Nor did he get his jowls or ability to furrow his brow in thought from a shepherd -- those are all hound.
His bark has some of the throatiness you hear in a hound's voice, though so far he hasn't done a full-on bay. He is also nose-powered, as the Viking puts it. When we go outside he tracks all across the yard, following the scents of squirrels and turtles and whatever other wildlife has passed through.
He grooms himself like a Doberman. For those who do not know, Dobes often groom themselves as cats do, and they can be fastidious about staying clean and dry.
And he's smart -- smart in a way that makes me glad he doesn't have thumbs. His previous owners gave him some basic training; he knows 'sit' and 'down' and how to walk nicely on a leash. I will probably try some more advanced training because this dog? Is smart.
These paws. These are the paws of a Doberman.
He has other virtues as well, not least of them that he is good with the cats, even when the cats have not been very good with him. When he met Maman's notoriously dog-averse cat, he lay down flat, chin between his paws, and let her inspect him. She still decided that he was a dog and therefore not acceptable but that decision was not forced by a sudden assault of paws, nose, and tongue.
I've been amused by the response to his name. 'Duke' is a pretty common name for dogs in the US. In this dog's case, it's the name he came with, he knows it and responds to it, and so we're keeping it. There's really no story there. People keep asking, though. Do we have some association with the university? (No). Is his full name Beauregard (Bo) Duke? (No. Though the Viking will cop to being covetous of a '69 Dodge Charger). Is one of us a John Wayne fan? (Well yes, but who isn't? El Dorado is my favourite of his movies. What's yours?)