Thursday, December 15, 2016

My Walking Dawg Is (Part) Chessie!

Since adopting Ellie Mae from All4Paws shelter in Pawley's Island last January, I have tried to figure a more exact lineage for her than "retriever mix." She is a sweetie at home, but sometimes is edgy when meeting other dawgs being walked or entering the vets' office. (She wanted to take out a Rottweiler there today.) Her personality is delightful but quirky. From her going bonkers when spotting squirrels, I had guessed that a Carolina coonhound had gotten together with some sort of retriever to produce the one and only Ellie.

Well, on Ellie's annual wellness visit today with Dr. Meredith Teague, our great vet at Carolina Forest Veterinary Hospital, I believe the mystery was solved. I had told her about Ellie's confrontations with other dogs (especially large ones), and Dr. Teague had noted her tightly matted, wavy-haired coat (which indeed seems to be largely water-repellent when we get caught out in a downpour). Noting Ellie's inclination to dominate, Dr. Teague put two and two together and surmised that Ellie is part Chesapeake Bay Retriever!

Chesapeake Bay Retriever

After reading a richly detailed article on the Chesapeake Bay Retriever Relief & Rescue website (, I am about 99.99 percent sure that a Chessie mix is what I have. Of course, only a DNA test could be proof positive, but Ellie has many of the traits of the Chesapeake Bay Retriever. The delightful article entitled "Don't Buy a Chesapeake Bay Retriever!" was originally authored by Pam Green in 1992 and has been copied and expanded upon many times. The author has given her permission for folks to reprint and distribute the article to help guide people who are thinking about buying or adopting a Chessie. The point of the article is that the Chesapeake Bay Retriever is an absolutely wonderful dog, but anyone thinking about getting one should know all about its rugged individualism and need for good care.

Here are just some of the highlights in which I so clearly see Ellie:

* "Most Chessies have an assertive and confident personality. When confronted with a threat, a proper Chesapeake Bay Retriever will be somewhat more ready to fight than to flee. Thus he may respond aggressively in situations where many other breeds back down." (Ellie does not back down. She wants to be the lord of all she surveys on our walks.)

Ellie Mae -- What Big Teeth I Have!

* "Chessies need exercise to maintain the health of heart and lungs and to maintain muscle tone. An adult CBR should have a morning outing of a mile or more, as you walk briskly, jog, or bicycle beside him, and a similar evening outing." (We do the long morning walk religiously, and try to do the evening walk too. If it is too cold or late in the evening, I take her out in the backyard and throw ball or let her roughhouse with our granddog, Dasher the pure-bred yellow lab.)

* Don't let your Chessie run free. "The price of such 'freedom' is inevitably injury or death: from dogfights, from automobiles, from the Pound, or from justifiably irate neighbors." (It scares me to death when Ellie unlatches a storm door -- yes she can do that -- or finds an open gate in the backyard fence, because she takes off like the wind, running recklessly. I have tried to train the whole family to keep her escape routes sealed.)

* "Chesapeakes as a breed tend to be of a socially dominant personality. You really cannot afford to let a Chesapeake become your boss." (Oh dear, will have to work on this one. Lately, Ellie has been been  putting down anchor and insisting that we go the walking direction of her choice. And sometimes I have let her! Bad. I will have to work on that Alpha male, leader of the pack thing.)

* Then there's this: "The CBR's unique, water-repellent coat and his love of playing in water combine to make him a highly efficient transporter of dirt into your home, depositing same on your floors and rugs and possibly also on your furniture and clothes. You must realize that you should be prepared to get wet when you and your Chessie are near water." Yep. Can always dust-bust and vacuum. However, a good dawg's companionship is worth having an at-times slightly unkempt house.

No doubt I will quote more from this wonderful article as we go further down life's road. Ellie, now 8, got a good report from her check-up today. The vet will call with results of her bloodwork in a few days. Meanwhile, we will just keep walking.

                                                 © Robert G. Holland  2016

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