Upon meeting Rusty Metal Farm’s tiny farm dog Chiclet for the first time, people inevitably want to know her breed. “Rescue” is my usual response, given that is how she came to the farm from a high-kill shelter in Louisiana. Beyond that, I explain, her background and pedigree is a mystery.
If pressed, I would tell people the best guess was a mix of Chihuahua and Yorkshire terrier. Certainly she has the diminutive appearance of the former and the bewhiskered face of the latter. Chiclet also loves to burrow under blankets or pillows which is a common trait of Chihuahuas and displays the stubborn feistiness of a Yorkie.
It also made sense since breeding particular mix — dubbed “chorkie” — has been growing in popularity down south ever since the first ones hit the market in the early 1990s, joining a long list of so-called designer breeds.
Now, I have long scoffed at breeds that were created seemingly because the combination of the breed names produced a cute portmanteau. For example, did the world really need a “puggle,” the mix of a pug and beagle?
But that certainly did not stop me from following social media pages and accounts devoted to Chorkies and utilizing the hashtag “chorkiesofinstagram” on Chiclet’s Instagram account Travels with Chiclet (@travelswithchiclet).
Even if she was a designer dog, I told myself, at least she was not a doodle dog.
Ever since Australian Wally Conron bred the first labradoodle — a cross between a poodle and a Labrador retriever — in 1989 to create a hypoallergenic service dog for a friend, breeders around the globe have jumped on the bandwagon. It seems there is no dog that can’t be doodleized.
We have schnoodles, goldendoodles, aussiedoodles and bernedoodles, just to name a few. I really can’t explain why the doodles push my buttons, but they do.
Even Conron himself regrets creating a doodle. Last year, Conron told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. that creating the breed is his life’s regret.
“I opened a Pandora’s Box,” Conron said, “and released a Frankenstein’s monster.”
He went on to say his creation sparked a proliferation of poodle hybrids that he claims have run amok with irresponsible breedings causing health problems.
What does all this have to do with Chiclet? Well, it turns out, on Rusty Metal Farm, I’ve had to eat a fair amount of crowdoodle — all thanks to my friend Julie who gave me a canine DNA test kit for my birthday.
After swabbing the inside of Chiclet’s mouth a la “CSI,” I carefully packaged up the three swabs in the special mailer that came with the kit, put it in the mail and waited several weeks for the results.
Assuming DNA does not lie — and I’ve watched enough television crime shows to convince me it does not — my tiny farm dog is half Chihuahua and half miniature poodle. In other words, a choodle. Yep, my dog is a doodle.
Even my longtime veterinarian was surprised by the results given Chiclet’s lack of poodle physical characteristics. So, just for fun, we ran a different DNA test with a different company. The results this time were a bit more detailed with regard to medical and health information. They also confirmed the 50-50 Chihuahua-poodle mix.
Choodle it is.
I’ve pretty much gotten over the shock of it and, after doing a bit of research online about poodles in general, have come to understand that, while Chiclet does not look like your average choodle, she does fit the profile.
Various websites describe choodles as fun loving, playful and entertaining in addition to being big cuddlers, loyal and athletic. Yeah, that’s pretty much my Chiclet.
So, now I am getting used to the idea of having a doodle dog. Turns out, I may have been a bit hasty in my judgment of the designer breed. Doodles are cool, even in tiny packages.
At this point, the worst thing about the DNA discovery is that I can’t get the song “Polly Wolly Doodle All the Day,” out of my head.
And, in the end, it honestly does not matter. I love Chiclet no matter what — her breed was never a priority. But, now that it has been confirmed, please excuse me while I change our hashtags to “choodlesofinstagram.”