I once asked Roxy’s breeder if dogs can recognize their own breed. She scoffed at this, saying, “They can’t see themselves in a mirror to know what they look like!”. But as I think about it, it seems to me that a dog will have imprinted on its mother and siblings for quite a few weeks or months before being sent to a new family. And even if it doesn’t know what type of breed it is, it may well be able to recognize the breed-specific and familiar sights and smells from its early interactions with its birth family.

Roxy plays with many dogs in the neighborhood, but none with the same abject joy and familiarity as with Pebbles, another Briard who lives a block away. They both frolic and mouth each other with an unprecedented intensity, made even stranger by the fact that Pebbles is another female (around 4 years old, so about the age of Roxy’s mother). They jump all over each other, chase each other around the yard, and lie down staring at each other. At 8 months old, Roxy already weighs 55 lbs., while Pebbles is a well-fed 85 or so. Roxy’s on the left.