Don’t forget about those mixed breeds in shelters

Twice a year, on July 31 and Dec. 2, we celebrate National Mutt Day, created to raise awareness of mixed breeds in shelters throughout the country.

Around 80% of dogs in shelters are mixed breeds.

Many of these dogs are healthier, better behaved and live longer than purebreds while being just as capable of performing the same tasks, such as bomb- and drug-sniffing, search and rescue, and therapy and health assistance.

These two days remind us of the millions of loving and healthy mixed breed dogs waiting to join families as they sit in shelters.

And you never know where you’ll meet one of these dogs.

Years ago, when our daughter was 7, Mocha, our miniature schnauzer, passed. We had told Jordan we would look for another dog to be part of our family. We were on several rescue lists for a schnauzer replacement when my husband, Ed, saw an adoption ad in the Dayton Daily News. The page was filled with photos of available dogs from the Warren County Humane Society.

Ed handed me the paper: “Look, it’s the Target dog!”

Sure enough, in a photo about the size of a postage stamp was a dead ringer for Bullseye, the bull terrier mascot of the national retail chain.

It looked as if this bull terrier was on the smaller side. Normally, they range from 45 to 80 pounds. But there is also a miniature version of the breed.

The next morning, I downloaded the Humane Society’s adoption application forms, called friends, including our church’s children’s minister (figured a little divine help couldn’t hurt), to ask for references, then sent in the completed forms. A few days later, the shelter called and said we could go on a Saturday to meet the Bullseye wannabe.

At the prison

“What? The prison? What prison?” I wondered, more than a little confused.

At that time, the shelter had a Rover Rehab Program that matched dogs with trusted inmates. Dogs lived and trained with the prisoners, then were available for adoption after completing the program.

So there we were on Saturday, the three of us in the prison’s reception room with other families who were there for the same reason we were. Jordan was excited, of course, but Ed and I were still a little dumbfounded about being in a minimum-security prison getting ready to meet a dog.

When the sheriff in charge of the program brought out the dogs, we saw that our “Bullseye” was huge and, more importantly, another family wanted him.

I felt panicky. I had promised Jordan, but not only was this dog bigger than I had imagined but we were going to have to compete with this other family.

That panic must have shown all over my face because the sheriff looked at me and said, “Don’t worry, I have the right dog for you.”

A few minutes later, he returned with Lucy. The 6-month-old mixed breed pup plopped down next to Jordan and started crawling back toward the prison door she had just come through.

Jordan immediately put her arms around the dog’s neck and kissed her. “I love her,” she said. “She’s the prettiest, best dog in the whole wide world.”

With that ringing endorsement, how could we say no?

How to observe National Mutt Day

  • Adopt your own mutt
  • Volunteer at a local shelter
  • Donate to a local shelter