Hounded By Doubt, Dogged Owners Probe A Mystery

Dovekie i i

While Dovekie was listed as a golden retriever-Lab mix, it became apparent as he grew he was a different breed. But what breed is he? Courtesy of Elizabeth Meister and Dan Collison hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy of Elizabeth Meister and Dan Collison
Dovekie

While Dovekie was listed as a golden retriever-Lab mix, it became apparent as he grew he was a different breed. But what breed is he?

Courtesy of Elizabeth Meister and Dan Collison

What you get isn't exactly what you pay for — but it may not always be bad, especially when it comes to a dog.

As former parents of a very happy Lab, and current parents to a very loving golden retriever, we stumbled across an Internet classified ad that seemed to be our perfect match: "Golden Retriever Lab Mix."

The ad read: "We don't have paper work or anything like that ... The puppies are all black some with white paws, very cute and parents of dogs are both very friendly, $150, or feel free to call if you have an offer on one."

So on Jan. 2, we drove up to the family's house in the country outside Plainwell, Mich., and found a slew of black pups bounding around the garage.

The family told us that Charlie, the pups' mom, was a purebred golden retriever. They insisted the father was a chocolate Lab — an apparently irresistible roving Romeo whom the family had seen locked in a romantic embrace with Charlie.

Guess Dovekie's Breed: A List Of Clues


  • A svelte 57 pounds at 7 months

  • Giant webbed feet

  • A stately beard and mustache

  • A tuxedo-white chest spot

  • Dashes of white on paws

  • An unusually long nose and body

  • Soft coat of fur around head and snout, but wiry from shoulder blades back

  • Big, heavy ears

Leave your guesses in the comments section below.

One pup stood out. He looked like he was wearing a little tuxedo, with a silky black coat and a proud mini-barrel chest. He followed us inquisitively, but calmly. And he also gave little puppy kisses at just the right time.

We were smitten. And had we not been totally overwhelmed with puppy lust, we might have noticed that this little guy looked nothing like a chocolate Lab/golden retriever mix.

We handed over the cash and decided to call him Dovekie (Dove-kee) after an unusual seabird with similar black and white plumage. But after a few weeks, we started to think a more appropriate name might have been Sasquatch.

And then with every passing week, a strange metamorphosis took place. His eyebrows shot up — straight up. And his whiskers grew — straight down. His snout got longer and longer. Weird wiry white hairs started showing up on his back. And his paws were turning into giant webbed paws.

By this point we'd pretty much thrown the chocolate Lab/golden retriever love story schmaltz out the window. And guessing who Dovekie's dad really might have been became the hottest bet in town.

One guessed terriador, a combination of a black Lab and terrier. Others guessed labradoodle; a cross between a schnauzer and a collie ... a Portuguese water dog ... a bouvier de flores from France. The list goes on.

Dovekie has giant webbed feet and a stately beard and mustache. i i

Dovekie has giant webbed feet, a stately beard and mustache, and a tuxedo-white chest spot. He also has an unusually long nose and body and big, heavy ears. Courtesy of Dan Collison and Elizabeth Meister hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy of Dan Collison and Elizabeth Meister
Dovekie has giant webbed feet and a stately beard and mustache.

Dovekie has giant webbed feet, a stately beard and mustache, and a tuxedo-white chest spot. He also has an unusually long nose and body and big, heavy ears.

Courtesy of Dan Collison and Elizabeth Meister

In the old days, we would have spent Dovekie's whole life wondering — was Papa really a rolling stone? And if so, what kind of stone was he? But in an age where everyone from former presidential candidates to rap stars are taking a DNA test to determine whether they are indeed the "baby's daddy," we decided it was time to settle the score.

We got a couple of dog DNA tests and went to work. We took a tool that looked like a toothbrush and rubbed it inside his mouth and mailed it in.

And because we wanted to be absolutely sure, we also had Dr. Harry Sorenson, Dovekie's vet in New Buffalo, Mich., take a blood sample for another type of DNA test.

So, what type of dog is Dovekie? We found out — and will let you know on All Things Considered Tuesday.

Dan Collison and Elizabeth Meister are independent producers with Long Haul Productions.

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