By Jim Tedford, Director of Animal Welfare Initiatives and Alliances
A number of years ago one of the national animal welfare organizations printed an awesome poster. It featured a composite photo made up of various parts from several different dog breeds. The caption read something like: “Can’t Decide Between a Shepherd, a Setter or a Poodle? Get the Best of Everything—Adopt a Mutt!” That is excellent advice and as timely today as it was nearly thirty years ago.
We all have our preferences when it comes to the types of dogs to which we are drawn. I happen to be a “terrier person”. I like strong-willed, energetic, smart dogs. And I’m drawn to the whole “big dog in a little body” package offered by most terrier breeds. I don’t have a particular aversion to purebred dogs…in fact, I live with four of them – three of which were adopted from animal shelters and the fourth was headed there when we intervened. But, I do recognize that most of my favorite dogs have been mutts.
Tanq, a terrier mix who lived with me for more than 14 years after being rescued from the streets of New Orleans, will always be “the one” in my life. He’s been gone for about three years, but he will always be with me in spirit. He was a tough little guy. On the one hand, he might be caught fiercely guarding his food dish or a toy, but on the other hand his favorite place to be was snuggling with a bed-ridden nursing home resident on a pet-assisted therapy visit. We never really knew what breeds made up our little Tanq. But, I suspect there was nothing purposeful about his breeding…we just got really lucky.
Our eldest daughter lives in Los Angeles with a beautiful border collie mix named Allie. She was originally adopted from our local animal shelter by my mother-in-law. Of all the dogs in the facility, Allie would have been one of the last on my list as a match for my mother-in-law. She had always had small dogs, mostly Boston terriers. But for the two of them, it was love at first sight and they stayed closely bonded. Due to some health problems, my mother-in-law is no longer able to care for Allie so she got shipped out to LA to start a new big-city life! She and my daughter quickly became best friends and are almost always together.
The truth is, most dogs are pretty awesome. Adopting from a local animal shelter is a great way to find a new best friend AND to save a life. Shelters are full of mutts and purebred dogs alike. And, don’t be fooled, for the most part these dogs wind up in shelters not because they are somehow “faulty”. Most are surrendered because owners had unrealistic expectations and underestimated the amount of time it would take to properly train and care for a new best friend.
Whether you’re looking for long-hair or short, wire-hair or curly, long tail or docked, big dog or little, terrier, spaniel, retriever or toy breed – the shelter can hook you up! Can’t decide between a shepherd, a setter or a poodle? Get the best of everything…Adopt a MUTT!