In the de facto national anthem of dive bars everywhere across the South, “You Never Even Call Me by My Name,” David Allan Coe remarks that the perfect country song should include references to mamma, trains, trucks, getting drunk and prison. Apologies to Mr. Coe (or is it Mr. Allan Coe?), but he left out one crucial element of Southern life and of country songs by extension:
If you want to be a Real Southerner, you’ve got to get yourself a dog.
Or maybe that’s a “dawg.” There’s a reason that two of the universities in the SEC have dogs as their mascot. Count Smokey, the blue tick hound, at Tennessee, and that’s three. The fact is that a man is not a Southern man, and a house is not a proper Southern house without a dog.
The breed doesn’t matter and can speak volumes about the owner. Pointer, setters, retrievers and curs are popular amongst avid hunters. Mixes of bully breeds are the choice of working class inner city and rural Southerners … and Michael Vick. Designer breeds are popular in households where the Southern Belle of the house holds sway – crazy mash-ups like Maltidoodles, Havanoodles or whatever they’re called.
Old money Southerners (and those trying to affect an old money lifestyle) stick with the classic pure-breds, like English Bulldogs. And like their owners, these dogs can be prone to health issues due to *ahem* questionable breeding practices.
The middle class, perhaps reflecting their own jambalaya of a heritage, embrace the mutts. In fact, anyone who brags about being 1/96 Cherokee but refuses to own a mixed-breed dog is not to be trusted.
And anyone who claims to be a Real Southerner but refuses to own a dog … well that’s just a Yankee cat in hound’s clothing.
What about you? What’s your favorite dog breed? And what breed do you consider the ultimate Southern dog?