By Kay Sumner
I guess it was just plain denial, the kind when you don’t really want to accept that you might be wrong about something. Could our newly adopted Bouvier Des Flandres, Maxwell, be an imposter?
The first red flag was his size. We had fostered 4 Bouviers before and knew that the breed standard weight was 65-70 lbs. Maxwell was 95 lbs. and still a puppy. We justified this by remembering we’d seen some larger Bouviers in Canada.
Next was his playful nature. Bouviers are great working dogs but ‘playful’ is not their strong suit. While cleaning out a used Airstream trailer that we’d acquired, I found a box of stuffed dog toys, and absently put them aside on the patio. Twenty minutes later, I glanced up and the box was just half full. A half hour later, it was totally empty. On the other side of the patio, there was Max, playing with all the toys that he had very neatly laid out in front of him.
Max continued to outclass the ‘breed standard’ by packing away the groceries. A mere 5 months after adoption, he was weighing in at 115 lbs.
Our denial was strong. We kept telling each other we just had a very “special” Bouvier.
Then one day, we brought Max with us to the pet store. A fellow animal lover approached us, exclaiming, “Oh- a Black Russian Schnauzer– we had one of those!”
I gasped. Had Max been fooling us all along? Was he really an imposter?
I nonchalantly sidled up to the book section, leafed through the breed pictures and boom, there was his mugshot – right there under “Black Russian Terrier – aka Black Russian Schnauzer”. Maxwell was so busted!
Max’s history only got more fascinating the more we researched it. He is a rare combination of 21 different breeds. In the 1940’s, Stalin commissioned the Russian military to genetically engineer the “perfect guard dog.” Stalin had one of Max’s ancestors for his personal bodyguard. Introduced into the U.S. only about 15 years ago, Black Russians are still quite rare, especially in animal shelters.
We can’t fault Max for working his way into our home and our hearts while pretending to be a Bouvier. After all, he wasn’t the one in denial!