The Dogs of Autumn

Throw some clothes in a bag. Pack twice as much for the dog.

It’s time for a road trip.

Looking at Leaves Along the Highway

The U.S. Sailboat Show in Annapolis gave us an excuse to take a long drive at the peak of leaf peeping season in our area. Like most things, the fall color made me think of dogs.

One of the only good things about car travel is that you can enjoy long views of fall color over the hills and valleys. It’s those scenic vistas that most people think of when they take a road trip during autumn.

autumn leaves

Not me.

I’m busy taking the short view and thinking about dogs.

I look for the riotous color of the scrubby shrubs and weeds that grow along the wide of the road more than the rolling hills covered with maples. I love the sumacs with their deep red seed pods, the gold and rust of the ferns carpeting the forest, and the yellow milkweed.

Do You Like Your Leaves Purebred or Mutt?

Now what does this have to do with dogs?

The vast swaths of color dressing the hills are like purebred dogs. They come to mind first. They provide the definitions (“she’s like a Golden Retriever with some Australian Shepherd thrown in” or “looks like a Chihuahua with a stepladder picked up a German Shepherd”).

Of course they’re beautiful. No one can miss the consistency of hue and the sheer volume of color.

sumac in the fallBut it’s the messy growth around the edges that shocks me with its beauty. I think of those colorful plants whose magnificence many miss as the mutts in the fall foliage.

They aren’t planted. They just crop up. They make their homes wherever they can get enough soil, sun, and water to grow. Their identity is a mystery to most of us.

Sound like any dogs you know?

A World Without Mutts

The noble goal of emphasizing spay and neuter is to make sure no dog ends up unwanted in a shelter. Or worse. I believe it’s one of the most effective ways to improve the welfare of companion animals.

But, if against all hopes, we succeeded in preventing any unplanned litters, we’d no longer have mutts. And I would miss that.

Consistent, stunning, and vast beauty is wonderful.

But it’s the beauty that surprises you that makes life special.

mutt collage


It’s Pet Travel Thursday. Check out my reading suggestions for planning a fall road trip with your pet at A Traveler’s Library along with some lovely photos from our friends at Tales and Tails.

photo credits: Nature Pictures by ForestWander via photopin cc and wallygrom via photopin cc. Mutts collage features photos from Timothy Krause, esaaveni, and Rosie Rosenberger found on Flickr.

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  1. Ohhhh myyyyyyyyy the trees are breathtaking!!

    I have a pure breed dog but I love mutts too!

    • I’m in the same boat, Caren. I love Honey. But I miss the days when I could look around at a big pet event and find my dog instantly. Now I have to search through a sea of beautiful Golden Retrievers to find my beautiful girl. :)

  2. Wow, those leaves are gorgeous!! Our leaves are kinda on the tail end now, and if it rains tomorrow, sadly, that will be it.

    • Sounds like it’s time to travel south. :)

      I’ve always enjoyed moving south in the fall and watching the leaves turn over and over again.

  3. I’ve had purebred dogs and mutts both in my life over the years, and I’ve loved them both!

    I love a good road trip, though! A lot of it now is because we prefer to travel with our dogs, but even before that, my dad took my sister and me on some epic road trips and I learned to see the world in a different way though that. Of course, he also made me keep the travel log and figure the gas mileage at each stop without a calculator. Apparently, I’m one of the rare people who can do math in their head now. Who knew road trips could be so valuable? 😛

    • Sounds like your dad was determined to teach you something besides road trips being fun. :)

      On the other hand, my parents would take long road trips to buy ice cream (they’d drive 2 hours to their favorite places) and somehow, I ended up hating long car trips. Maybe your dad was onto something.

  4. I have my fingers crossed that we’ll see some colorful leave when we head to the White Mountains of Arizona next week. Interesting segue from leaves to mutts, by the way!

    • I hope you’ll post some pictures from your trip. I’d love to see how different the fall color looks in Arizona from our East Coast maples and oaks.

      As for the leaves to mutts thing–you’ve discovered my secret. I think weird.

      Though I guess that’s not really a secret, huh?

  5. My mutt says, “Bravo!”

    There’s also a little smug feeling I get when someone says, enviously, “What kind of dog is that?” Because, neener neener, you can’t have one. It almost makes up for not having breed to fall back on to explain his behaviors–“Oh, he’s just being a labrador” or “You know Westies just bark.”

    • I remember people being surprised when I said our dogs were mutts. There was a weird assumption that if a dog was beautiful, she must be a certain breed. It was so strange.

      Of course, you could make up a Silas breed and ascribe some characteristics. Next time someone asks you tell them Silas is an “All American dog.” They’re famous for being particularly cute and sometimes barking at other people and dogs. :)

  6. I’m from Vermont, and we have leaf peepers too. But I used the term with some of my friends out west and they had no idea what it meant!
    Well, Kelly is a mutt and Brooks is a purebred from the shelter. It doesn’t much matter to me, I have room for both!

  7. Pamela-peoples…do you know what type of tree that is with the red leaves that kind of looks like the Palm Trees I saw in Florida? I ask because my peoples just saw them on our trip and The One Called Donna wanted to plant some…which would be great for me too, since I’d have something else to tear down to replace the Evil Tree!

  8. Awww… I’ve always been a mutt fan. :)