About a year after I got Penny, I googled ‘American dingo.’ I can’t remember what exactly drove me to search for it, but I remember what I found. Picture after picture of dogs who all, in some way or another, looked like Penny. Some looked like clones. These dogs had all kinds of names: Carolina Dog, American Dingo, Dixie Dingo, porch dog, and — there it was — “yaller dog.” Dad was right.
I was sucked into a hole, reading descriptions and looking at photos of people’s dogs. I was shocked that behaviors and traits I thought were unique to Penny appeared in most Carolina Dogs. The hooked tail and the almond eyes were present in all of them. The behaviors are what convinced me, though. I always bragged that I never potty-trained Penny. She just learned not to go to the bathroom inside within the first two weeks I had her. Ditto for all Carolina Dogs. She would dig small holes in my parents’ front yard to stick her snout in. Ditto again. She was more loyal than any other dog I’d ever been around. Carolina Dogs have an extreme pack mentality.
The more I read the more amazed I became. Carolina Dogs are hypothesized by their discoverer to be the only American dog breed with no European ancestry. All of their forbearers are said to have come across the Bering land bridge with the first humans to inhabit North America. They’re dogs that look and act the way they do because of the natural selection they endured over thousands of years in the South.