“She’s a reject,” the man explained. “Most breeders don’t want them. But we just love her.”
“I understand. Our dog is a reject too.”
In fact, most purebred dogs are rejects. And I feel very lucky to have ours.
Honey Meets A Purebred Reject
Last week, we were hanging out at the marina with Honey. A man walked by with an exceptionally cute little dog—mostly white with a single black ear.
The little pup obviously wanted to say hello so the man asked if it was okay.
I told Honey to sit. We’ve found that many small dogs find Honey overwhelming in friendly golden greeting mode. So we let them approach her first.
The little white dog was fearless so we let Honey off leash and the two chased and played.
Honey kept trying to make herself tiny—bowing down, lying on her side—to encourage the little dog to jump on her.
As they played, the man asked if we knew what breed his dog was.
I looked her over but had no idea. She didn’t look like any dog I had seen before.
He told us she was a Chinese Crested Powder Puff. Yep, this fuzzy little dog was the same breed as those mostly hairless dog with fur only on their heads, feet, and tail.
Apparently litters have hairless and furry dogs. But most breeders only want the hairless ones. So we never see the others. Or if we do, we don’t recognize them.
Breeding The “Perfect” Dog
We all know about jerks who breed dogs only for profit. To them, breeding the perfect dog means one that they can sell. To anyone.
But I’m thinking about serious hobby breeders. The ones who protect strong blood lines and try to breed perfect (and hopefully, healthy) dogs.
Honey’s breeder is always looking for that perfect dog she can show and then breed to create new, healthy and perfect golden retriever puppies.
When Honey was six weeks old, her breeder took her entire litter on a road trip to visit an experienced golden retriever judge. They were looking for the puppy that best met the show dog breed standards.
They identified two dogs with promise. One stayed with the breeder and the other went to someone else looking to show their dog. The other three, including Honey, were purebred rejects.
Luckily for us, Honey is not a reject companion.
Why Honey Is A Reject
I don’t know much about showing golden retrievers.
I do know that Honey is not big enough to meet the show standards for a female. She’s very petite—only 50 pounds. People often ask if she’s still a puppy.
And she doesn’t have that blocky muzzle that is popular in the American show ring these days.
Honey’s face is slender and delicate compared to the squarish bear faces you’d find in a kennel club show.
But if Honey doesn’t look like the “perfect” golden retriever, she acts like one according to the temperament standards:
“…friendly, reliable and trustworthy. Quarrelsomeness or hostility towards other dogs or people in normal situations, or an unwarranted show of timidity or nervousness, is not in keeping with Golden Retriever character.”
Honey, the golden retriever reject, is the perfect dog to me.
Reject In One Way; Perfect In Another
Dogs are lucky they don’t know how we categorize them.
Honey doesn’t care that she’s not perfect enough to win prizes at dog shows.
If only people could be the same way.
No matter how many skills and talents we have, we see only the ways we’re not perfect. Or envy someone who is better than we are.
I feel lucky that words come easily to me. But I constantly read the works of others and say, “I wish I could do that.”
My husband has a better ear for music than the average person but he seems to resent the fact that he’s not Mozart.
Honey is not perfect by the standards of the Golden Retriever Club of America. But she’s been a loving companion, patient foster-sister, and friend to everyone.
And that’s perfection enough for me.
Your Turn: By what standards is your dog perfect?