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Published: Sunday, 7/6/2008

A big heart is part of Digby's heritage

Through the window I can see my faithful dog lying peacefully in the grass on the side lawn. I used to knock on the window and wave, but that doesn't work any more. His hearing is almost gone now.

Yesterday when I walked out onto the lawn and he saw me, he began to run as best he can with his arthritic legs and hips. It was endearing to see him pick up a faster pace. And at the end of his jaunt he deserved a massage.

So do I really need to know what breed, or breeds, Digby is? When asked, I have always jokingly answered, "He's a stray dog."

A more serious answer is "border collie." His head resembles that breed's, he is exceptionally smart, and he has a herding instinct - here at the lake, he herds not cows, but geese. When he was more agile he could round up 30, 40, or even more of them and then herd them into the lake.

Digby enjoyed the beach on a recent Florida vacation. Digby enjoyed the beach on a recent Florida vacation.

More recently I have added Australian shepherd to his bloodline because of his very thick fur. When he is groomed black spots show up, which could mean he is part Dalmatian.

Then too, his turned-up tail could mean he is part chow, but his tail is white.

All of those assumptions only prove that his heredity has been discussed, but certainly has never been of deep concern to me. I admit that when driving through this neighborhood, I have looked at dogs, thinking I may spot his mother, father, or siblings. I have heard that he came a good distance on Posey Lake Highway and stopped at a few houses, but wouldn't make friends until he came down my driveway. How lucky could I be?

Do I really care about the mixture of breeds in my best friend? Knowing wouldn't change our relationship.

Still, there is curiosity. I would be surprised if the 70-pound dog had chihuahua or even standard poodle in his family tree.

There are DNA tests that can tell you about your pet's heritage. But Digby is not a mutt. He is a stray that found his way down the right driveway, and we fell in love on the spot. I remember saying, "Where are you going, big guy" to the small pup.

"Your name will be Digby. Are you thirsty?"

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