There are species or breeds of animals that you know exist because you watch them on television. Yet they seem mythical, because you never see them in real life.
This is especially true of some of the stranger breeds of dogs. I am a fanatical viewer of televised dog shows, so I know that breeds like the Brussels Griffon and the Borzoi are out there somewhere. I see such breeds in the movies (for example, Hooch in Turner and Hooch was a Dogue de Bordeaux) but I never even heard of them until I saw The National Dog Show for the first time. I live in a relatively diverse dog neighborhood (leaning towards big dogs like Briards, Bernese Mountain Dogs and Saint Bernards, although I have also seen a wide variety of terriers and toys — chihuahas seem popular) but there are still many breeds that might as well be chimeras. (I want a Novia Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, although I have never seen them in the flesh. I do doubt if I have the energy for one, though.)
Last week, while returning from a trip to San Diego, for the first time, I saw two Neapolitan Mastiffs.
Oh, my God. They are impressive… downright scary. Forget pitbulls — if I wanted a guard dog I would get one of these. Even if they are well-trained and gentle, just their appearance would make the staunchest burglar think twice about trying to get past them.
They are huge. According to the AKC, males weigh 150 pounds, which pretty much matches what I thought when I saw them. Each of the pair easily outweighed the young woman who was walking them, or more accurately, held on to the leash while they deigned to walk in the direction she led, up until an athletic young man walked up and relieved her of her charge.
They are also beautiful. Their face is weird, granted, but they are a stunning steel blue-gray color that reminded me of Pandora (our Russian Blue cat).
I could never own a dog like this. They would take up too much room in a small house — besides, I have heard they both snore and drool.
But I’m glad someone does. The world is a more interesting place for animals like that.