An Old, Ugly, Cantankerous Mutt


On the day I retire,  I intend to stop by the animal shelter and walk out with the oldest, ugliest, most cantankerous mutt I can find.

I do not want an attractive dog. The very word attractive bothers me. It comes with too many expectations: like grooming,  food off the top shelf and staying indoors on muddy days; ugliness comes by itself.

As for congeniality, while it is good to have a friend, it is equally good to have a day off. It is hard enough to explain why I must go fishing alone to a spouse, why add a dog to the mix?

The same goes for lineage. Breeding is too often an affront to nature. The best breeding is done for size, speed and strength, the worst is for fashion. As a consequence of reckless breeding, hips deteriorate, teeth impact and hair becomes a source of eye infections. All of these things happen because breeding is done to please someone other than the dog.

Still, my motives for seeking an old, ugly, cantankerous mutt are beyond these things.

I want an old dog because I don’t want to scold a puppy for humping the house guests. Nor do I want to cultivate a relationship. I have been through all that. I want a mature dog, one who has been through all that too.

What I want is an ugly dog who has no expectations. One who understands the practicalities of why I provide food, water and shelter. One who also understands that in return for these things, neither love nor loyalty is required, only that he tolerates my bad habits and does not chew on my things.

I want a cantankerous mutt, one who is aware that our time will end some day and understand that when he is gone, I will find another old, ugly, cantankerous mutt to take his place and when that dog dies, I will find another – until such time as those who love me will find for themselves another to fill the void of the old, ugly, cantankerous man who once occupied a place in their lives.

Author: Almost Iowa

20 thoughts on “An Old, Ugly, Cantankerous Mutt”

  1. Did you end up getting a dog, have you retired, and what kind of dog did you get? I can’t have a dog where we are now because we are renting. At the height of my dog companions living with me, I had 5. I only get large dogs from the pound and never puppies. I can’t deal with puppies. The choice is the dog’s, not mine. Maintaining eye contact with me with a pleading look wins me over completely. I always get mutts with one exception. Once a beagle looked at me mournfully. I brought him home and he destroyed the house and ran away a kazillion times.

  2. Such a nice read. Since some time has passed, you may have worked your way up the ladder a bit and be at curmudgeon-level now. Either is good, but only someone who just doesn’t understand life would brand either one a mutt. Now, a cantankerous-curmudgeon mix? That would be a breed to behold.

  3. After much prodding from the wife, we stopped at the local shelter. After having two dogs and two cats all the time for 25 years, I was at a point where my heart couldn’t handle another loss of a pet. We had been dog less for almost 6 months (our cats were lonely, she says) and of course we find the most disinterested depressed 9 year old basset/springer mix that clamped firmly on to my heart. I firmly believe that what we don’t know about each others past has cemented us together. Some how that makes sense…Good read!

  4. We had two mutts. One was indeed cantankerous and the other was sweeter than honey. They are both gone now and we haven’t replaced them, and have enjoyed our freedom. But the day I retire, I’m not making any promises.

  5. Glad I read this. So, we have purebred dogs and they are furbabies treated the same as children! A lot of time & paying attention goes with that! Scooter sounds perfect in his ugliness. Something to be said about mutts being the best dogs. 🐶 Christine

  6. I always side with the underdog – no pun intended, I swear. Forget the purebreds. Stuff and nonsense. Companionship and engagement – those are the attributes I’d be looking for.
    Glad that you re-posted this – it was written afore I knew ye.

  7. Reblogged this on Almost Iowa and commented:

    I am convinced that Scooter believes he has become a cat. He sleeps with Twiggy and her kittens, he romps with them and lately, he has been eyeing their food.

    So I am considering getting him a canine companion and in the process of deciding what kind of friend that should be, I came across this old post.

    It is dearer to my heart now than it was on the day I wrote it.

  8. Love this! And so true on the problems of breeding just for looks. I hate seeing bulldogs that can’t even breath due to their “cute, smooshie, faces,” etc. We adopted a canktaerous old dog once, and he never gave us a single reason to regret it.

    1. At first I wanted a bulldog. I liked their attitude then a forensic scientist I worked with showed me an x-ray of the way their jaws fit together. I was horrified. She then lectured me on Terriers, who were bred to murder things. That is what made me decide on a mutt.

      Scooter is definitely a mutt, it’s why I love him.

  9. I want a dog who looks deeply into my eyes and see that my soul sees his or her soul. Cantankerous wouldn’t work for me…it’s enough to deal with my own grouchy mate. But good luck with your retirement plans. Fun read.
    Jan Hersh

    1. You are onto something there, Jan. Pets do have a way of seeing into your soul. I suppose that is why we love them so much.

      At least for me, that is why cantankerous is the only thing that would work. Whatever is looking into my soul has got to have an attitude. 🙂

    1. Oh yeah, they do.

      When my wife tells me how cantankerous I am, I just blush, shuffle my feet and say, “Gosh, thanks”

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