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News & Views August 2014 Issue

When the Mirror Has Two Faces

Some dogs are said to look like their owners.

When my son, John, was eight, he started lobbying for a shiba inu. Why he had set his sights on that off-the-beaten-path breed my wife and I couldn’t understand. No matter. We already had a dog, Franklin the border collie, which by anyone’s account was like having two dogs. To give you an idea, one day our neighbor Lori called to ask if we had let Franklin out. “No,” we responded. “Why?”

“Because he’s in my kitchen,” Lori said. She lives four houses up the street. (To this day we have not figured out how Franklin got out of our home — or into hers.)

It was clear to us that we did not need another dog to look after, so we did what all sensible parents do. We ignored John’s request. Early on we learned that the best way to handle a child’s wish for something you’re not inclined to give is to treat it like spaghetti — see if it sticks.

John Lindner and Rosie. It's kind of hard to see the family resemblance, but if you look closely enough...

Stick it did. John didn’t let up, so we finally relented — sort of. We told him he could have a shiba inu but that it had to be a rescue. He shot back that he wanted a puppy and that it was hard to get a rescue of a particular breed who was still under a year old. But those were the rules, and we kind of figured that would be the end of it.

It wasn’t. John found a six-month-old shiba puppy who was being fostered in a home 200 miles away after having been removed from a situation in which dogs were being hoarded. So into the car the four of us went — my wife, John, me, and Franklin — to see what we thought, and damn if we didn’t all fall in love with the dog. Rosie has been with us since December of 2011 and turned three this past June.

But only recently did I find out from John, 13 this month, why he wanted a shiba inu in the first place. “They have red hair like me,“ he told me, “and are kind of independent — like me.” Ah ha. The thing is, Rosie doesn’t look a bit like John. She’s one of those cream-colored shiba inus rather than a reddish one. It never mattered, not even to John. It was clear from the get-go that she belonged with us. Not as independent as shibas are known to be, she turned out to be a cuddly delight.

And it turns out John is not the only person who had an idea for a dog that would look like its owner. It appears that, consciously or subconsciously, others go the same route. 

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