Shortcut to Picking a “Fierce” Family Dog

The family dog

This is our family dog.

And this is how we came to him…


Day One: Cautious Selectivity

The whole family goes to the animal shelter to meet some interesting canine characters. There’s a majestic and unusually muscular Weimaraner whose genuine loveliness with people belies a sick penchant for murdering his fellow animals.

Nyet, my Cheka-security-thug-in-a-former-life friend.

Also a shaggy, mixed breed dog shaped like a Vienna sausage that snarfs up another dog’s hot pile and proceeds to slobber on my then 2-year-old’s face while she’s sitting in a stroller.

Nix on the sausage dog.

Day Two: Zap!

This trip happens without me, because I’m, like, at work. Perhaps the family has selected from amongst a phalanx of superb dogs, I don’t know. I only know that one is picked. Not just picked, named.

Because he is small and full of transparently faux ferocity, the hound is named Cathaoir, which is Gaelic for “Battle Lord” and pronounced ka-HEER.

He is a puggle: a cross between a pug and a beagle, and here are the breed traits as near as I can tell:

  • Laser-beam focus on food
  • Evil genius, particularly when it comes to getting at the aforementioned comestibles
  • Tongue is a tight squeeze for the mouth
  • Barks like a lunatic when anyone passes within a parsec of the house (when the Halloween mobs descend, he is our special all-night “treat”)
  • Runs an hourly nighttime perimeter check with clickity toenails
  • Patient and willing to be dressed in clothes of both genders by children
  • Loving and extremely sensitive

I kvetch, but I actually care for the little fiend. Still, I’m not sure about the Battle Lord appellation. I think he would have been more aptly named something like Yappy.

Send your pet photos to me at and they can join Cathaoir in a future wall of fame.

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