At roughly five months of age our fifth dog Felisa is staying relatively small. She is not going to be a miniature or a teacup anything, yet weighing just six kilos she is blissfully petite compared to our other dogs which start at nineteen kilos or roughly forty-two pounds. Even our two hefty cats weigh as much as Felisa.
We're discovering that small is good at least when it comes to dogs. You can carry Felisa under your arm or placidly cradle her on your lap while watching television, unless one of the cats ambles by and a hissing and barking brawl ensues. She fits, albeit barely, in a shoulder bag. She can nudge her way onto a dog cushion even if there's another dog already on it. She eats only half as much as any of the other dogs and poops proportionately. A paper towel will do, no need to reach for a dustpan or a shovel.
On the down side we now need to watch our step, particularly in the dark, so as to not trip over her like a pair of stray sneakers. Her bark, a screech more rat than dog, is not very classy but what can you expect from a specimen found abandoned and starving by the side of the road with its head all cut up and bloodied?
You get what you pay for. Felisa came to us free so we can't demand the elegance of a Greyhound, the menacing roar of a Pit Bull or the the rumbling basso of a Rottweiler. Just a plain little mutt with a high-pitched yippee.
If anyone could trace it, Felisa's family tree would look more like a bramble. She is compact but not enough to be a Chihuahua; longish as if to suggest a Dachshund, but not quite so. Her stumpy feet and splayed front paws say "penguin" but Felisa is definitely a quadruped. The tail is about half as long as her body, which could portend a larger dog or just an oddly proportioned one.
The first vet that checked her out theorized she might have some German Shepherd blood, which prompted our gardener Félix to guffaw that the guy must be fresh out of school or a complete pendejo. Last week a second vet proposed the Dachshund hypothesis.
It's useless trying to predict her provenance as if she were a fine painting. Felisa is all or none of the above, the result of a casual tryst, an unguarded moment of doggy passion under the moolight out in the country. She was not engineered by a breeder. A map of her genes would be more Jackson Pollock than Leonardo da Vinci.
None of these unseemly details bother Felisa. She wakes up deliriously happy as if she had won a huge prize, which indeed she did when Félix discovered her helplessly whimpering and shivering. She is a prize for us also, albeit a small one. Stew and I hope she remains so—and a bit strange—just as she is.