The Paragon is a ten (soon to be eleven, and I can’t tell you how that fact gives me pause) year old Chinese Crested, who’s somewhere between a Powderpuff and a Hairy Hairless, according to the Chinese Crested breeders I’ve consulted. As a bit of back story, The Paragon was a rescue pup who I adopted in the fall of 2003, hence the confusion as to his exact coat type, and in fact the confusion as to his breed in general. Truth be told, he had been with me for three years or so before I knew what breed he was, and I only found out when I took him to be evaluated for therapy work and the woman who was evaluating him told me so. I had him down on his paperwork as a terrier mix, as it seemed more precise than “I have absolutely no idea,” and she was confused initially, thinking she had the wrong paperwork or the wrong dog, but once we sorted that out, she told me in no uncertain terms that I had a purebred Crested on my hands, and not the motley mixed breed I had thought.
Not that it made a whit of difference to me, (though it did solve the mystery about why his front dewclaws had been removed, something you don't normally see on dogs that aren't purposely bred) but once she told me, it was like a light bulb went on, and the breeders I consulted and sent his picture to concurred. Those familiar with this breed probably know, as I did not, then, that the differences in Cresteds’ appearances based on grooming and whether their ears were taped as puppies (The Paragon’s were not) can be pretty dramatic, (if you don't believe me, Google Chinese Crested images sometime and you'll see what I mean), so I use that as an excuse as to why I had this dog for three years and saw him every day and had no idea what he really was. Not that I really needed an excuse, but my ego WAS somewhat bruised. After all, I was a dog-obsessed child who grew up into a dog-obsessed adult, and by the time I was seven or eight I could identify all the AKC-recognized breeds by their pictures, and correctly spell and pronounce most of them. I know my dog breeds, damn it, from Affenpinscher to Yorkshire Terrier, and just about every breed and variety in between. Or at least I’d thought I did, until The Paragon made a fool out of me. Ah, well. Keeps me humble, I guess.
Anyway ... where was I? Oh, yes … The Paragon. The Paragon’s real name is not, as you have likely surmised, actually The Paragon. That would be a bit pretentious, it has zero nickname potential, and would be extremely embarrassing to call out at the dog park. "The Paragon, come here!" Yeah, I'd sound like an idiot. Even as I sit here writing this, I'm blushing. And I'm pretty sure the dog in question is cringing on the inside.
However, I have often been quoted as saying that he is the perfect dog, so there you go. His alias was born. Or christened. Whatever. But for those of you who don’t already know him, either in real life or from our former blog, here’s a little nugget I’ll share with you in the interest of total honesty: (because the only sound foundation for any relationship, including the one between Blogger and Reader, is honesty, right?) So here goes: The Paragon is not, actually, perfect. Don’t get me wrong, he’s darn close to it, but still, he’s not, technically, 100% totally and completely and absolutely perfect. He does have one or two flaws.
Flaw #1: He barks. A lot. Not incessantly, mind you, but often. And more loudly than his sixteen-pounds-soaking-wet size might have you believe. He has always been this way, but truthfully it has never really been THAT big of a deal. A minor annoyance, mostly. After all, he does quiet when asked, and he's otherwise so perfect, almost angelic really, not to mention insanely adorable, that the barking thing was just never an issue. Not in the entire ten years we've been together. But recently, this teensy-tinesy little flaw did become AN ISSUE. (Which is a subject for another post, so I'll save it for another day, so that, God willing, I won't have to write another post about door mats!)
Flaw #2: He's a nosybody. Not in a bad way, ... he just always wants to know what everyone is up to. Not that he judges regardless, you understand. He just wants to be in the know. Like, all of the time. One morning, during the first few days I had him, I was in the shower washing my hair, when all of a sudden the shower curtain parted, and in jumped The Paragon. Not being especially fond of the water, he didn't particularly want to get wet, although he definitely DID get wet ... he just wanted to see what I was doing in there. It's mostly me that he's interested in, and it's pretty much his mission in life to know where I am and not be more than a few feet away from me at any and all times, but people in general seem to fascinate and engage him, and he loves just about everyone, with few exceptions and just about zero reservations, even if they don't love him back.
Case in point: a year or so ago, one of my co-workers poked her head into my office and said "Hey, can you come get The Paragon? He's in the meeting and I can't get him to leave." (See, I have this boss who is kind of a mad genius, and he's extremely demanding and tries my patience practically to the limits of my tenuous hold on my sanity on pretty much a daily basis, but who is a pretty amazing person despite this, and who lets me bring my dogs to work, and so, because of this, I have to love him even when I want to kill him.)
Now, normally I don't bring The Paragon or The Flying Monkey (who I'll introduce you to later) to work with me when we have clients coming to the office, but this was a meeting of the unscheduled/impromptu variety, and so it happened that The Paragon and The Flying Monkey were both at the office that day. Last I had looked, they were both snoozing in their bed next to my desk, but I had gotten wrapped up on a phone call and apparently The Paragon was feeling nosybodyish and had decided to check out what was going on in the conference room. When I went to fetch him, there he was, sitting at rapt attention, as though he would later be asked to recite the minutes.
Flaw #3: He's busy. Not a busybody ... which we've already established that he is. (See Flaw #2) But just plain busy. As in ... has a hard time settling down, regardless of how much exercise he has or has not had, or how worn out he should or should not be. He's not hyperactive ... he's just curious ... about everything. What will happen if I push that (insert name of object here) with my nose? How about if I tap it with my paw? Shove it with my head? I swear if he had thumbs, or was human, he would be the one building a space shuttle in his garage. He would be a big-time tinkerer. A mad scientist type, right down to all the hair on his head standing on end. Sometimes this trait is entertaining, or downright endearing. Often, though, it's pretty annoying. I do not like being distracted by wondering what that banging sound is on the second floor when I'm down in the den trying to watch Revenge.
So ... three flaws. Really ... just the three. Well, wait, I just remembered something. He snores. But actually, I find this nothing but charming, so it doesn't really count as a flaw. So yeah, just the three. OK, so maybe he's not really a Paragon. Maybe he's just the Mary Poppins of canines: practically perfect in every way. Practically perfect is still pretty good, though. Regardless, for my money, (and no disrespect meant to The Flying Monkey or any of the other dogs I've known and loved over the years) he's the best dog I've ever had or, I'm sure, will ever have. I don't know how I got so lucky, but I know one thing: I won the dog lottery the day I found him.