M. SCOTT MORRIS: Finding dog’s breed takes patience



It’s obvious to anyone who looks at him that Bix is a Mississippi mudhound.

Before he started to turn gray, he had the signature brown head and black body that practically screams out, “Mudhound!” What’s more, he has the mudhound swagger that says, “Where’s the food?”

Our new puppy, Swinter, has been more difficult to classify, but after months of trial and error, we’ve done it.

Obviously, we didn’t get to meet Swinter’s parents. Information from the Tupelo-Lee Humane Society said she’s a border collie mix.

I always thought border collies had long hair, but a search online revealed there is a short-haired minority.

In addition, her tan and white coat with tan freckles fit in with what one would expect from a border collie.

But it never seemed right. Do you know what I mean?

So my wife and I spent an evening online, Googling phrases like “short-haired, medium-sized dogs.” We hit on an interesting possibility.

Swinter shares some traits with the treeing Walker coonhound. Her head is a little smaller than a coonhound’s, but the body type is a close match.

Suddenly, my wife and I had a new problem: Do we tell people she’s a “borderhound” or a “cooncollie?”

Both have their merits, and we went back and forth between them for a couple of weeks.

Then, as sometimes happens, we realized neither name fit.

I couldn’t tell you exactly why. This is more about feel and intuition than anything else. We simply knew we’d been barking up the wrong tree, and you know how annoying that can be.

We decided to let Swinter tell us who she was, which required no small amount of patience.

During our observations, we learned sometimes she’s Swinterrific, but more often, she’s Swinterrible. That was an important clue that pointed to our answer.

If you have the time, travel back with me to Christmas Eve, when Swinter came to live at the Morris Manse. That was the same day of TBS’ marathon of “A Christmas Story.”

You know the movie with Ralphie and the Red Ryder BB gun, the “Queen Mother of All Curse Words,” the “Triple Dog Dare,” and the frozen tongue.

Do you remember the “Chinese turkey” at the restaurant? Do you remember why Ralphie’s family didn’t eat the turkey his mother had prepared?

That’s right, the Bumpus hounds from next door broke into the family’s home and ate that turkey.

You’ve probably guessed by now that Swinter is a Bumpus hound. Unlike Bix the Mississippi mudhound, she’s a long-legged dog, and kitchen counters are her favorite hunting ground.

Bags full of candy aren’t safe, neither are loaves of bread or bowls of spaghetti sauce.

It’s sort of a good news/bad news situation. Intellectually, I’m thrilled to have solved the puzzle of Swinter’s breed, but I wish the answer hadn’t been so Swinterrible.

M. Scott Morris is a Daily Journal feature writer. Contact him at (662) 678-1589 or scott.morris@journalinc.com.

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