I remember at one point, early in rescue, seeing a dog who came into rescue who was a lot like our dog, Gingerella Fitzgerald. Gingerella was a great dog — shameless, affectionate, tough-minded — so it was funny to see her doppleganger show up looking for a home. When I talked to her twin’s foster, I found out that this dog had a lot of the same personality traits. He was immensely loveable, good-natured, and self-serving. I remember thinking that the beagle/lab mix seemed like a good one.
I started paying attention to other dogs who came in and noticed a very definite trend. There was a certain kind of dog that you could pretty much guarantee would be an easy keeper. I decided to call the breed the Blab (because Leagle did not seem like the right nickname for this slightly larcenous combo). So we wrote up a breed standard, a revised version of which is posted below. Also, I want to apologize for the picture size and quality in advance. These are older shots.
- Appearance: Distinctive color that is akin to the “tan” of a beagle’s black and tan. (We have heard reports of Blabs in other colors, but pics or it doesn’t happen, folks. Seriously, pics.) Handlebar ears. Some Blabs can have an apricot tinge to their coat; however, Blabs’ color can range significantly. Normally short-coated, but sometimes will have long fur in some areas. A distinctive open-mouth “smile.” A barrel/long torso and shortish legs. Many Blabs, even if thin, will give an impression of sturdiness. Eyes often have “eyeliner” or can even resemble a raccoon’s mask. Many Blabs have snowy white accents* on their chest or feet. The Blab “bib” of white is frequently seen on many of the breed’s most comely specimens. Many Blabs also have a white tip on the end of their tails. (*I was ridiculously proud to learn that Temple Grandin has observed that dogs with some white in their fur tend to be less afraid of people. She, of course, has a lot more to say about this and wasn’t applying it to blabs, but I’m going to take that observation to the bank as a full endorsement of Blab theory.)
- A special note about the Eyeliner of Shamelessness: It’s not a catchy name, but we call the kohl-lined eyes sported by many blabs the Eyeliner of Shamelessness. If you see it, chances are you’ve got a dog who doesn’t worry much about his or her dignity, or yours.
- Size: The Blab can be anywhere from 25-70 pounds, most of it torso. As the result of this torso density, many blabs give the impression of portliness. However, this sturdy torso is one of the Blab’s many assets since it enhances their huggability quotient. (By the way, we don’t really recommend hugging dogs around the torso, but a Blab will tolerate it well if you just can’t help yourself once in a while.)
- Health Problems: The typical Blab suffers a genetic abnormality: the total absence of the shame gene. They will swoon, nudge or sit on feet for attention, no matter where they are, no matter how over-the-top this behavior is. WARNING: The photos below show graphic examples of shamelessness, which is incurable.
The Many Faces of Blab
Although Blabs have simple motivations (food, affection and attention), they are extremely complex in other ways. On any given day, a Blab might be alternately lazy, energetic, self-serving, loving, manipulative, calculating, kind, single-minded, affection-starved, and of course, shameless. They are rarely subtle about how they feel: Females and males alike are known to emit dramatic sighs when they are bored or forced to do something they don’t like.
As a result of this emotional range, the Blab is a joy to photograph. They tend to put themselves into positions that are beautifully eloquent. Can you guess what these blabs are feeling?
The Inconvenienced Blab
Sometimes a human will do something that a Blab does not like. This often involves making a Blab get up from a location where he or she has made himself comfortable. For example, many Blabs like to lounge in doorways or otherwise block ingress and egress to the house. In such cases, their humans are often surprised in those situations to see that their normally affable pets are capable of giving looks that, in a human, would be described as resentful. (One Blab owner described it as the “Cold Glittering Stare of Death.”)
Identifying the Blabbus Americanus
- Has this dog mastered the head bump, arm snuggle and stealth cuddle? These are all ways a Blab will make sure to get attention.
- Does your Blab ever look at you in a way that makes you think that you are dealing with a person reincarnated in a dog’s body? Do you have a feeling you worked for that person in a previous life?
- Does your dog ever swoon shamelessly in front of you in order to get you to pet his or her tummy? Is his or her tummy infinitely pettable?
- Does your dog ever gladhand strangers for affection?
- Is his or her torso perfectly hug-sized?
- If human, would your dog be good at any of the following careers: Bar owner? Lounge singer? Rugby player? Movie star (from the studio system days)? Pickpocket? Grifter? Party planner?
Do you suspect, or know, you have a Blab? Pictures always welcome in the comments.