Psychologists have found that the whole “dogs-look-like-their-owners” phenomenon is actually true. In fact, a person on the street—like you or I—has a 50 percent chance of correctly predicting which dog belongs to which owner, simply by looking at photos of the two.
I took this to heart when choosing which dog to rescue two Christmases ago. Since it was going to be our sons’ dog, my husband and I decided it should be like them: light-colored, tightly shorn, and a creature who does his business when and where he’s told. So, imagine my surprise when out of the car jumped a Tanzanian wildebeest the color of an oil spill.
“I thought you were picking up the small one from the photo,” I gasped at my husband. “The sleeping one, curled up in a blond ball.”
“She ran out first,” he said, pointing toward the kids, who were now riding her like a horse. “There was nothing I could do.”
It was raining that day, and for several days after that, so it took me a while to get a sense of Sally’s mini-me potential until she dried. With the exception of finding an extra nipple on her belly, nothing about her appearance changed. She looked like the same rabid gnu, wet or dry.
I took her to get groomed the moment I could coax her back into the car. “I’d like you to shave her,” I told the woman behind the counter. “She needs a do-over.” And out I walked with high hopes for the daughter I never had.
When I picked her up, she looked exactly the same as she had when I dropped her off. The only difference was that now she smelled like a Glade PlugIn. “What happened?” I asked the groomer.
“She’s fine the way she is,” she said. And then she handed me a baggie with a Lego and half a candy cane in it: “Here, we found these in her armpit.”
Exasperated, I took Sally to a second groomer, whom I told very clearly this time, “I’d like her to look more like me.” It was only then that I realized I was crying.
“Don’t worry,” she said, before sending me away with a hug.
Four hours and $120 later, Sally smelled like a blueberry pancake, with a rainbow of gingham bows threaded throughout her fur, tail to snout. “Are you supposed to be Dorothy?” I sobbed as I ripped the bows off in the car. “Is that what people think of me? Of us?”
Sally, happy to be alive and in the front seat, went to sleep with her head in my lap. It was then that I realized I had it all wrong. Unshaven and with a penchant for peppermint, this apple did not fall far from her tree.
Since then, no one has ever mistaken who belongs to whom. And thanks to yet another year of fringe making a fashion comeback, it looks like hairy is the new black. LBM
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