Probably my favorite photo of her:
She probably thinks this blog is about her.
Remember when this blog had a lot of pictures of my cat? Me either. For those of you cat-enthusiasts, I promise I haven’t sold my entire soul to being a dog person. Even if I was on the brink, it only takes one day of coming home to shredded books/tupperware/eggplants/coffee beans/couch cushion/spatula to bring back fantasies of the good ‘ole days of occasional hairballs.
We’re back! And for the final installment of the Decoding Maris series, we’re going to explore some other lesser-known dog breeds that may or may not have gone into making a Maris.
Portuguese Water Dog
Though we don’t get asked nearly as much as we did when she was little, the second-most guessed dog breed for Maris is Portuguese Water Dog. PWDs are well-known now thanks to Bo Obama, the First Dog. And I bet everyone who knows anything about PWDs can also tell you they are hypoallergenic. So, given the curly and hypoallergenic coat, if we’re going to make a Maris without a poodle, a PWD is a strong contender.
PWDs were bred to accompany fisherman on boats and are proficient swimmers. This is in stark contrast to Maris, who gets her swimming instincts from me. We like to play in shallow end, but will be damned if we have to go into water over our head and actually swim. On the upside, we’re making progress with Maris and swimming. Me? I’m a lost cause.
PWDs are a bit smaller in stature than a poodle (17-23 inches, 35-60lbs), but their coat has the same curly texture which makes me wonder if there is a “wavy-coated” mix breed that might look a lot like Maris. In the meantime, what do you see on this puppy’s chest:
Bouvier des Flandres
If any breed is going to contend with the Giant Schnauzer for the contribution of bearded genetics, it’s the Bouvier des Flandres. Bouviers were originally bred in Belgium for herding cattle and general farm work. Much like the Giant Schnauzer, they are compact, powerful working dogs that are fairly tall in stature (females ~23-26in).
Their coat is thick, short and dense – made for working in inclement weather. And (and this is my favorite thing ever), they are known known by several different names including “Vuilbaard” which means… wait for it… dirty beard. (Sidenote: I live in a house with way too many gray vuilbaards).
There are not a lot of photos of Bouvier mixes, but the puppies bear a striking resemblance to Maris, as does this photo of a Bouvier without the cropped ears.
But the Bouvier, as you can see in the photos (and confirmed by my encounter with one at the dog park) is fairly soft and fuzzy, especially when clipped. And that brings us to the final piece of the Maris puzzle: her coat. Here’s a close up of her back & leg:
You can clearly see the fuzzy undercoat, which I would describe more as “wooly” than soft, and gray wire hair coming through. So, if any genetics are required in a Maris-mix it has to be something with a wire coat.
One of the things we noticed in the photos of Fergie was how thin/narrow she is, especially her snout. This had us looking around at similar dogs which lead us to the Irish Wolfhound. The first thing to note is that Irish Wolfhounds are gigantic. I mean, seriously huge (they stand somewhere between 30-34 inches tall). But as you can see from the photo, while tall, they are very narrow dogs, especially in comparison to the Schnauzers & Bouviers. The breed dates back to 391 A.D. and, as the name suggests, were originally bred to hunt wolves.
They have a wiry, rough coat, fantastic eyebrows and a vuilbaard. They are also the only breed I came across with their own Tumblr fan page. In looking up Irish Wolfhound mixes I came across Onyx, a Wolfhound-lab mix. I can’t insert the photos here, so check out his portrait session courtesy of Sarah Beth Photography.The size is way off, but there is a definite Maris resemblance there.
Okay, so Dovekie isn’t a breed, he’s a dog I came across when looking up the legitimacy of dog DNA tests. Dovekie’s story was featured on All Things Considered on NPR. His owners were told he was a golden retriever-chocolate lab mix until he began a “strange metamorphosis”: “His eyebrows shot up — straight up. And his whiskers grew — straight down. His snout got longer and longer. Weird wiry white hairs started showing up on his back. And his paws were turning into giant webbed paws.”
Basically, he began to look exactly like Maris, and if you don’t believe me check out the list of his traits in the left hand column and compare it to the list I wrote a few weeks ago and his Facebook page. Also, I love the list of breeds his owners considered and the additional suggestions in the comments. I swear I didn’t copy it for this blog series.
In any event, the point of the NPR story was that Dovekie’s owners decided to find out what he was made of and sent his DNA into several different companies. The results were all over the board, but the one breed that all the services came up with that caught my eye was Wirehaired Pointing Griffon.
As it turns out, Wirehaired Pointing Griffons are not the same breed as German Wirehaired Pointers (but, the GWPs are descendants of WPGs). The first thing I noticed when I looked up WPGs was how the gray coat stops around the neck. You can see from the black & white photo in the first post, Maris’ gray is concentrated on her torso and is slowly moving down her legs, with almost none on her neck and head. I also learned that a WPG’s gray coat can take 2-3 years to fully come in, which makes me wonder how much more gray Maris is going to get. Of all the breeds that may be in there, I think WPG and/or GWP is almost a certainty.
I was going to round out this series by doing a point-by-point comparison of Maris to a muppet, only to find out that someone (with a labradoodle, no less) totally beat me to it. So, I’ll leave you with one last Maris photo and leave you to your continued speculation. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.
For those of you just joining us, see the first installment of Decoding Maris here.
The number one question we get asked about Maris is whether she’s a Labradoodle. For those of you who aren’t down with designer mutts that cost way too much money, a Labradoodle is a labrador retriever bred with a poodle. Labradoodles come in all sorts of colors and sizes, and their coats range from curly to wavy. And some, well, some look an awful lot like Maris:
I concede that the wavy coat, webbed feet, and beard are on point. And we’ve met several Labradoodles that look an awful lot like her. But she’s generally much shorter and stockier than the poodles and Labradoodles we’ve seen and her fur is not at all curly. And this series isn’t about coming to a conclusion in the second installment, so let’s move on.
At some point in the process of Googling various dog breeds, I came across this post on a dog forum. The dog in question looked a lot like Maris, albeit much smaller, so I kept scrolling and discovered a whole new breed of designer mutt with a stupid name. Blog readers, meet the Schnoodle.
A Schnoodle is the result of a schnauzer and a poodle that HOLY SH*T THAT DOG LOOKS JUST LIKE MARIS:
It turns out I know absolutely nothing about Schnauzers. Up until a few days ago I couldn’t even tell you what AKC group the Schnauzer belongs to (it’s the terrier group or working group depending on the size) or what they were bred for (all kinds of things: guard dogs, police dogs, protecting livestock, cattle driver, catching vermin). They come in three sizes: miniature, standard and giant, and are known for their impressive mustache and beard on their muzzle (or, as they say in German, schnauze). Don’t be embarrassed – the light bulb just went off for me too.
A female Giant Schnauzer stands ~23-26 inches high and weighs anywhere from 55-75lbs. A notable Giant Schnauzer trait is their musculature. For example, adjectives used to describe Giant Schnauzers are: powerful, compact, robust, sturdy, muscled, and rugged. This is interesting because Maris is turning into a fairly dense dog. She is by no means narrow or lanky like a poodle (and it’s not clear from the photos if Fergie was lanky or simply malnourished) and she has at times been accused by ignorant strangers as being slightly overweight. But really, under all that fur there is a substantial amount of dog.
Schnauzers have a wiry top coat and a dense undercoat that mats easily, which again, is exactly what Maris has, and the Giant Schnauzer I met at the dog park confirmed this.
One of the most alarming things I learned was what a purebred Giant Schnauzer puppy looks like:
I know, RIGHT?!
Much like the Labradoodles, Schnoodles run the gamut of colors and sizes. Those with wavy coats are a spitting image of Maris, while those with the curlier poodle-like coats don’t look anything like her. But even if we knew definitively that Maris was part poodle, I would deny it because I cannot bring myself to call her either of those names.
But is poodle even necessary? Could Maris have been created without any poodle genetics?
::insert cliffhanger music here::
UP NEXT: Dog breeds you’ve probably never heard of
A few weeks ago I took this photo and when I looked at the screen I had no idea whose dog was staring back at me. Seriously, when did she go from cute muppet-puppy to this giant ridiculous looking dog?
As with all mutt owners, Maris’ genetic makeup is a topic of endless fascination and speculation in our house. I’m embarrassed to admit how many Google searches we’ve done on the topic. In this new series of posts, I invite you to speculate along with us and maybe learn about a few breeds (pure and mixed) that you’ve never heard of along the way.
Before I get into it, YES, I am aware that there are companies out there that do dog DNA tests. I am also aware that they are inconsistent, unreliable, and in some cases simply wrong. Besides, I would rather keep the money for the next time she eats a sock and it doesn’t come out the other end.
Let’s start with what we know about Maris:
Age: 9.5 months
Withers (shoulder) height: ~23inches
Coat: Hair; black & soft underneath with a gray (wirey?) coat coming through mostly on her torso
Beard: Gray and fierce
Temperament: Easy-going, amiable, with a very stubborn streak
Maris came to the shelter with her mother, Fergie, and sister, Cindy. They were advertised as lab-otterhound mixes, but having recently read an article about how unreliable shelters are at identifying mixed-breeds, I put little stock in that. Regardless, Cindy seems to confirm the lab portion of this equation, but Fergie? It’s hard to tell from the photo how big she is, but she clearly shares the black/gray coat, beard and eyebrows with Maris. But is she part otterhound?
Background: Otterhounds are a British breed that – as the name suggests – were bred to hunt otters. The Otterhound Club of America has provided a handy list of otterhound traits, including long low-set ears, large webbed feet, and a thick double coat. Otterhounds are also known as being very vocal. They have a characteristic deep bay or “hound voice” and frequently mutter, grumble, grunt and sigh. According to the AKC, the breed standard for females is 80lbs and ~24 inches at the withers. As for the coat, the outer coat is dense, rough and coarse, and there is usually softer hair on the head and lower legs. They also have a water-resistant undercoat of short wooly, slightly oily hair.
Why we think Maris is part otterhound:
Having spent most my life with retrievers, I have no doubt that Maris has some hound in her. Her desire to retrieve exists only to the extent that something (actually, anything) more exciting isn’t happening. She is easily distracted by her nose and has no ball drive whatsoever.
Size-wise she’s larger than most female labs and has a large barrel chest and fairly large feet which makes us believe something larger than a lab was involved in her conception. Her double coat of hair (not fur) is coarse and prone to matting and her large furry feet collect just about everything. On the upside, this means no shedding.
And then there is the grunting. OH the grunting. Other than bulldogs whose grunts are a byproduct of their breathing, I have never heard a dog grunt the way Maris does. It usually happens when she is excited about something (e.g. treat, toy) or when she is really comfortable (like a purring cat). It’s a guttural grunt that you can feel coming from deep down inside her. She also has a tendency to sigh dramatically when she lays down as though her life is terribly difficult. We mock her regularly for this.
Why we think Maris is not part otterhound: Statistics. According to the Otterhound Club of America fewer than 1,000 purebred otterhounds exist world-wide. While some purebred otterhounds are known to exist in eastern Washington, its hard to imagine that one had the opportunity to mate with a non-otterhound dog. Also, she’s definitely lacking the low-set long ears and deep bay voice. More likely she is a conglomeration of traits from several breeds that have expressed themselves in a manner similar to an otterhound.
Why we will continue to tell people Maris is part otterhound: Because her name is not nearly as funny or clever if she isn’t an otterhound.
UP NEXT: Things that end in ‘oodle’
*Correction: The original post stated Maris weighed ~65lbs. This number was based on a weigh-in over a month ago. At her weigh-in today Fatty McButterpants clocked in at 75lbs.
In the last 48 hours I have completely devoured Sheryl Sandberg’s new book, Lean In. For those of you who feel like you’ve read it already via book reviews, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy. It is fascinating, eye-opening, and totally inspiring.
The book is full of statistics, many of which are being repeated over and over elsewhere. But it was this statistic near the very end of the book that pulled me out of my exhaustion-induced haze at midnight.
Here’s the passage:
“Currently, only 24 percent of women in the United States say that they consider themselves feminists. Yet when offered a more specific definition of feminism – “A feminist is someone who believes in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes” – the percentage of women who agree rises to 65 percent.” (Page 158)
Blink. Blink blink. Did you say SIXTY FIVE percent? This means 35% of women can’t even be convinced to call themselves feminists when you give them a completely neutral definition of the word.
Hanna Rosin wrote a wonderful article for Slate in which she pondered whether it was time to abandon the word “feminist.” The driving force for the article was Marissa Mayer’s recent statement in an interview with PBS that she would not call herself a feminist, and later described feminists as being “militant” and having a “chip on their shoulder”. Rosin ponders: “If someone as smart and successful as Mayer, someone who tours the country speaking to young women, can’t comfortably call herself a feminist, then maybe we need to take her objection seriously.” She later says “Women’s success doesn’t mean there are not battles to be fought. But insisting on the term “feminism” may be getting in the way of fighting them.”
I have not seen much in the way of responses to her article, but I think Rosin is spot on. It’s time to abandon the word. It is fraught with too much history and is associated with too much anger, finger pointing, man-hating, and blame. At some point the word was hijacked. It’s time we stop fighting to get it back. We all need to move forward. Here’s how:
Take the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. If you believed in equality for blacks, you were a “civil rights activist”. These activists fought, lobbied, raised awareness for their cause, demanded change, and at some point society moved forward. Laws were passed. Opinions were changed. And eventually, the default changed. It is no longer activism to believe in and fight for equal rights for blacks (or any race for that matter). If I speak up when I see racial inequality, no one accuses me of being an activist. Instead, everyone calls the offender a racist. And this word, racist, is bad. It carries weight. Serious weight. It can ruin relationships, incite lawsuits, and derail a political career. Unless you wear a white pointy hat in your spare time, you do not want to be labeled as a racist.
Now take feminism. There was a movement. If you were for the cause, you were called a feminist. These feminists fought, lobbied, raised awareness for their cause, and demanded change. Laws were passed. Opinions were changed. And at some point society moved forward. But unlike the civil rights movement, the default never changed. If I speak up when I see inequality among the sexes, I’m labeled a feminist. And (exactly as Marissa Mayer pointed out) the associations and assumptions that come along with this label are mostly negative. Now, I’m on the defensive, and rather than discuss the real issue at hand, I’m tasked with overcoming the 50 years of baggage associated with the term before I can even get to my point.
But here’s the thing, we have a word for the offender. He’s sexist. But this word, there’s not nearly as much weight behind it. Why?
Being a racist is bad. Society has stopped allowing us to use any evidence to justify inequality among races. But being sexist? There’s always a justification for it. And the person accused of being sexist? He’s ready to make his case as soon as you throw out the word. Am I really being sexist, he asks. I mean, there are inherent differences between men and women, and inthis situation it is okay to favor a man over a woman because men naturally do X better than women do. Here, look at all this evidence. It’s science. He doesn’t want to be labeled as a sexist any more than he wants to be labeled a racist, but he’s pretty sure he can talk his way out of it.
In advocating for gender equality, we tend to focus on all the work left to do at the expense of how far we’ve come. Society has moved forward. Belief in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes no longer needs a name. Presented without the word “feminism” attached to it, it’s a concept that a majority of women and men in this country believe in. It’s time to change the default.
Voicing concerns over gender inequality does not make me a feminist any more than voicing concerns over racial inequality makes me an activist. It’s outdated and it’s unnecessary. And it’s why (IMHO) Marissa Mayer, members of Generation Y and I refuse to embrace it. It’s not because we don’t believe in the cause. It’s not because we don’t feel the responsibility to pick up the torch and move it forward. It’s not because we believe that full equality has been achieved and that there is no more work to be done. It’s because the second we label ourselves as feminists we do nothing but spend our time and energy on defense.
So, I’m done defending myself. I’m not a feminist. You’re sexist. And the arguments you’re throwing at me to defend your position? That’s not based on science. That’s a based on antiquated stereotypes. And I’m done hearing it. It’s not me who needs to defend my label, it’s you.
In case you haven’t had to search for a solution to this first world “problem”, let me save you some time: pet food storage is where design goes to die. After several months of searching I was at a loss to find anything that was less of an eyesore than the 40lb bag of dog food sitting in the corner of my dining room. The field seems to be limited to giant Tupperware and hideous canisters that proudly announce DOG FOOD. (Sidenote: what’s with the labeling? Your dog can’t read and you’re not going to forget what you put inside the giant container). Most of the creative solutions I found seemed to ignore the need for an airtight container and Martha Stewart’s opinion on the matter was no where to be found. It was at this point that I seriously contemplated a career change.
Enter Harry Barker. Harry hasn’t embraced my position on the non-labeling, but at least the designers gave some consideration to the fact that your dog food may need to sit in the middle of your kitchen. I instantly fell in love with the Toile canister at a local pet store, but the website has all sorts of styles and sizes. Also, the treat tins make fantastic gifts.
“Do you want to do farm work over your birthday weekend? You can probably brush ponies.” Sometimes your spouse asks you something that makes you wonder if they know you at all. This was one of those times.
These photos are from our weekend in Orcas Island and of our accommodations at Once Upon a Blue Moon Farm. I highly recommend taking advantage of the Greenhorn special wherein you do 4 hours of farm work in exchange for a greatly reduced room rate. We did some gardening, mucked some stalls, and I brushed the shit out of some ponies.
Three decades ago I made my grand entrance into this world and in the process, successfully destroyed any preconceived notions my mother had about a peaceful home-birth. Last week I celebrated the anniversary of this event with a head cold, an evening out with friends and family, and some extra special sass from Graybeard. To wit:
You aren’t sick. This is just what 30 feels like.
Are there any other jokes you would like me to make before your birthday is over? I’ve covered your crows feet, the fact that your womb is drying up, and how if I keep doing things to make you furrow your brow you’re going to develop a wrinkle there… are there any other things about getting old that you would like me to make a joke about? It is your birthday, after all. I don’t want to disappoint you.
The biggest surprise of the day was my office, which had been decked out with streamers, balloons and 30 googly-eyed grapefruit dressed in costumes. There is no explanation I can give here that will make that last part make any sense. However, it does serve as additional proof that my department has more fun than any other department in the firm.
Captain Graybeard, Esquire, several friends and I spent this past weekend in a cabin just outside of Leavenworth, Washington. It was a much-needed weekend away from the city, filled with good company, good food, a hot tub in the snow, and lots of wine. It was also Maris’ first experience with snow – the novelty and excitement of which I believe wore off around the 100th time she sank up to her hips in it. And no, she did not catch that snowball.
Remember how I said I was going to blog more? That was a lie. What I meant to say was that I was going to think about blogging more. In reality, I am going to blog as infrequently as I ever did. And as this month proved, sometimes less.
Actually, I have several posts mulling around in my brain right now, I just need a moment of time that is not taken up by work/life/illness. Also, I’m still working out the kinks of posting from my iPad (probably the topic of an entire future blog post). The good news is that when I am not diligently posting here you can now find me over here. It’s like blogging, but for lazy people.
Until next time, here are the obligatory photos of Maris to hold you over. She occupied this spot (and mostly in these two positions) on the couch for three days while I succumbed to this year’s horrific version the norovirus.
Happy New Year blog readers! As you can see, it is the second day of the year and I am already behind on my New Year’s resolution to blog more frequently. But really, New Year’s Day is for watching bad movies and recovering from your hangover, not for implementing resolutions. Besides, if you didn’t completely regret the last day of the year you would have no reason to make resolutions.
Since I don’t have any resolutions worth talking about, thought I would kick off my blog posts this year with the one thing I am looking forward to the most in 2013: my and Captain Graybeard, Esquire’s belated honeymoon.
My boss tipped me off to this adventure and – being fans of the show – Graybeard and I were immediately sold. So, this spring Graybeard and I will go on a 10 day, Amazing Race-style adventure through Europe. We get our tickets 3 days before we leave, so we have no idea where we’re going, what we’re doing each day, or where we’ll end up. But we do know there will be lots of photos, ridiculous videos, and if I can get my act together a Twitter feed for you to follow. This also means that there will be at least one more post this year comprised of something other than photos of Maris. Happy 2013!
Captain Graybeard, Esquire and I celebrated our first Thanksgiving as newlyweds with a perfectly lazy, food-filled day. A friend orphaned for the holiday joined us in our laziness and we subjected her to the worst movies Netflix had to offer.
Graybeard took care of brining and smoking the turkey which was amazing. I don’t care if smoking turkey is considered this year’s “fad” – it is hands down the most delicious way to prepare turkey (and yes, I’ve had deep fried turkey).
With the exception of the cranberry sauce (which – with three ingredients – hardly counts as a recipe) and the stuffing (why mess with perfection in a red and yellow box?) the rest of our meal was assembled with recipes from my favorite food blogs.
Cranberry Orange Sauce
1 bag of cranberries
1 orange, peel on
Throw cranberries & orange in blender. Add sugar to taste. DONE.
A few years ago I heard about Mama Stamberg’s Cranberry Relish on NPR and was intrigued enough to make it. As it turns out, people who are not me really like it, especially on leftover turkey sammiches. Friendly recipe note: cut the recipe in half and you’ll have more than enough to go around.
Fish Sauce Vinaigrette
1/2 cup fish sauce (adjust to taste — some fish sauce brands are saltier)
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
Juice of 1 lime
1/4 cup sugar
1 garlic clove, minced
1 to 3 red bird’s-eye chiles, thinly sliced, seeds intact
2 tablespoons very thinly sliced cilantro stems, plus 1/2 cup leaves
3 tablespoons chopped mint
And last but not least, pear-cranberry gingersnap crumble courtesy of Smitten Kitchen. This crumble is so amazing I can hardly stand it. One thing to note – the crumble and pears provide enough sugar to carry the entire dish. I didn’t toss the fruit with any sugar and more than doubled the cranberries and still thought it was fairly sweet.
A few weeks ago Captain Graybeard, Esquire and I decided to put an end to the “no, seriously, I have the best chili recipe” conversation and hosted a chili cook-off. 12 pots of chili were entered and while only three were awarded medals, everyone walked away victorious. Cook-offs truly are the only competition where everybody wins.
I entered a smoky white bean chili which took third place in no small part due to several pounds of homemade bacon courtesy of Graybeard. I suppose what qualifies as a chili is in the eye (mouth?) of the beholder, and I agree this is a fairly non-traditional recipe. Regardless, it makes a delicious pot of food.
Smoky White Bean Chili
2 cans of white beans
1 yellow onion
1-2 jalapenos (or hotter peppers if desired)
Salt, pepper, garlic, chili powder
1. In a large pot, bring approximately 4-6 cups of water to boil; add beans, a few cloves of chopped garlic, and chopped peppers; turn heat down to a simmer
2. Crisp bacon in fry pan; cut into small pieces; add to pot
3. Caramelize onions; add to pot
4. Slice leek into thin half-moon slices; toss in large fry pan until warmed and browned a bit; add to pot
5. Let pot simmer for a while to reduce any extra liquid. Chili should be fairly thick.
6. After chili is reduced, begin adding chili powder, salt and pepper to taste. *Important note – taste chili before adding any salt. The bacon will likely provide enough salt for the entire pot.
7. Continue to simmer – the longer the better. Eat!
Somewhat related – in the middle of the afternoon cleaning and preparing for the chili cook-off I came across this scene in the living room. No one informed me it was nap time:
Maris gets the zoomies every night before bed. And this is a good illustration of why I can’t have nice things.
Last week Captain Graybeard, Esquire and I headed back to The Pantry at Delancey for another cooking class, this time Mezedes: Greek Small Plates taught by chef and owner Olaiya Land. Unlike the last few classes, this one wasn’t based on a recent cookbook, rather it was a compilation of recipes put together to teach us some classic Greek dishes, ingredients and flavors. As soon as I saw the menu I knew we were in for an amazing evening – one that might actually give us some new recipes to throw into the rotation.
We made grilled octopus with chickpeas, red pepper, lemon and dill (oktopodi salata); potato, garlic and olive oil spread (skordalia); roasted beets (pantzaria); zucchini fritters with minted yogurt dip (kolokithokeftedes); Pelopennese-style eggplant stuffed with lamb (papoutsakia); and yellow split pea spread (favosalata).
To say the meal was phenomenal is an understatement. Truly, every dish on the menu blew my mind. Granted, I may be a bit biased as I eat feta by the spoonful and have unknowingly stocked our kitchen with almost every Greek cooking staple, which I incorporate regularly into our meals (minus the eggplant, because the only thing I do with eggplant is let it slowly rot on the counter while I search in vain for a recipe that isn’t eggplant parmesan). For those of you who are interested in some Greek recipes, Olaiya recommended Kokkari (also a restaurant of the same name in San Fran) and the Country Cooking of Greece.