Back in what we must now call ‘my day’ (and was, until quite recently called ‘my father’s day’), whenever your thoroughbred bitch found its way through the wire netting that surrounded the back garden and managed to fashion a tryst with a similarly footloose and collar-free dog, the resulting offspring were known as ‘Mongrels. Free to good home. Will be drowned if not taken’ and held in such disdain that the canine parents stood every chance of having their Kennel Club registrations summarily revoked and, as far as the male was concerned, being parted from all that he held most dear – not to mention licked most often – by the vet. Mixed parentage was something that was definitely not encouraged by the guardians of the cropped tail, the snub nose and the viciously highly strung. A certificate most certainly would not be granted to anything with a name home to anything less than four hyphens and a pedigree that could be traced back to one of the hounds that lay at King Arthur’s feet under the round table, waiting for cast offs of venison, grouse and wild boar; that had rooted for fleas at the side of Lancelot and attempted to mate with Merlin’s leg every time he settled down on the couch. These days, if you take a £100 poodle and send it off on a ‘we’re all adults here’ singles weekend with a £150 Labrador, what you end up with is a litter of £2000 Labradoodles, three million ‘Likes’ on Facebook and a pied-à-terre in Tuscany. How canine times have changed.
And I realise that there must be some sort of official formula erm… formulated for deciding the names of these Nouveau Hybrids (I’m pretty sure that the male comes before the female – oh come on, don’t make your own jokes up please – and I can’t apologise for it, because it is not my fault!) but, come on, somebody’s having fun aren’t they? Why is a Cockerpoo never a Spandle? Surely there are breeders all over the world racing towards the kind of breeds that the more laconic of dog owners would simply die for: a Jack Russell and a Shih Tzu – a Jack Shit; a Jack Russell and a Labrador – a Jackdor; a Great Dane and a Cocker Spaniel – a Greatcock; a Shih Tzu and a Pit Bull – a Shit Pit…
It would seem that whilst humans are deeply (and rightly) opposed to eugenics, we are very happy to tinker about in the gene pool of all other creatures. I remember as a child reading about a Tigon (a tiger/lion cross – as opposed to a lion/tiger cross which is, apparently a Liger) being born at a zoo somewhere at much the same time as a Zedonk (zebra/donkey – as opposed, I assume to a Donbra) providing, presumably, something for the Tigon to chew on. These sort of hybrids seldom appear in the natural world (I’ve a feeling – although I’m not to be trusted on such things – that tigers and lions actually exist on different continents, making the possibility of natural hybridization of this type somewhat remote without one of them being very lost indeed). It is the nature of humankind (and let’s face it, whether you subscribe to the views of the scientists, in which scenario serious pre-history crossbreeding took place with Neanderthals, Denisovians and at least one other yet to be identified hominid species, or you subscribe to the view of Theologians, in which case, seeing as we are all descended from Adam and Eve, some serious inter-familial hanky panky must have occurred) to interfere with things that really ought not to be interfered with, simply because we can, and because we love making up new names for new things.
I am most definitely not against this sort of thing occurring – I’m sure that in almost all cases it is desirable, if not actually essential to evolution – I just feel as though it ought to happen naturally. If your Chihuahua wants to cosy up to a Bull Mastiff (providing all proper consent protocols are observed) just let them get on with it. Love will find a way and, let’s face it, the world has to be a better place for having Bullhuahuas in it.