I’m not gonna lie. I think my dog is gorgeous. The thing is, I’m not the only one — not by a long shot. Every day I get stopped about Kemba’s appearance. Just yesterday, while we were walking around Equinox Pond in Vermont, two different dog-owners expressed variations on this same theme: “That face! He’s the most beautiful dog I’ve ever seen!” Then, the inevitable next question: “What kind of dog is that?”
I brace myself. “He’s a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever,” I answer. I’m super-aware that, as dog breeds go, a five-word name sounds a little ostentatious. To deflect, I immediately add something self-deprecating, like, “It’s a mouthful, I know.” Or, “Yeah, I have to stop for a breath in the middle.” Or, “He’s the only breed whose name is a complete sentence.” And we move on comfortably from there: Where did you get him? Does he shed? Was he easy to train? I answer all the questions happily. Proudly.
Carol, who’s not as fond as I am of engaging strangers in long talks about dogs, tries to escape with a shortcut when asked about Kemba’s breed. “He’s a Duck Toller,” she’ll say simply. The stranger will give a quizzical look, as in, a what? Carol is forced to expand. “A Duck Tolling Retriever.” But this still doesn’t seem to do the trick. “You know, kind of a smaller, redder Golden? The Canadian version?” And on and on. By this time, to my way of thinking, she could have just said, “He’s a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever,” and been done with it.
He is a good-looking dog, though. And tomorrow he sees the groomer. Wait till you see him after that!