by Sandra Murphy
In 2005, celebrity pet expert and animal welfare advocate Colleen Paige created National Mutt Day to support the adoption of mixed breed dogs. Mixes are at the highest risk for euthanasia due to overbreeding and lack of available homes, partly due to the popularity of pure bred or designer-mixed dogs like labradoodles, pugapoos, puggles and goldendoodles.
Mixed breed dogs often have fewer genetic-based health concerns, live longer, can be easier to train and are as loving as any other dog. Owners often say rescue dogs realize they were chosen and their desire to please is a form of gratitude.
Dogs end up in shelters for a variety of reasons—allergies, moving to a place that doesn’t allow dogs, the dog digs holes in the yard, the dog whines during a storm, the dog barks during the day—none of which are acceptable excuses to drop a dog off at the shelter.
• Test the kids for allergic reactions by letting them visit a shelter to help socialize dogs waiting for a home.
• Don’t move to an apartment that will not allow your dog to move too.
• Terriers were bred to dig so know what kind of dog you’re getting before you commit. Got a digger who’s not a terrier? He’s bored!
• Older dogs become sensitive to noise. Rescue Remedy, a thunder shirt or snug t-shirt, the calming scent of lavender or a low dose of a prescription relaxant will let the dog get through a storm without anxiety.
• Some dogs like to people watch out the window. Some bark at everything that moves. For them, you’ll want to close the blinds. Got a dog who barks at every sound? Give the dog his own mix of tunes or leave the television on to drown out the noise outside the door. One chatty Sealyham terrier found classical music to be the most calming.
• Think about your lifestyle. Are you active or a couch potato? Work from home or gone for twelve hour shifts? Got kids or cats? Does your lawn have to be pristine or is it okay to show signs of wear and tear? Get a dog that will fit in.
• NEVER buy from a pet store. The dogs will give you sad puppy eyes and who can resist? You end up paying a big price for a dog who is likely to have health problems, behavior problems from being separated from his littermates too soon, and who is most assuredly, no matter what the clerk says, a puppy mill dog. To you, it’s saving a life. To the store it’s “we’ve got an empty cage, order another dog.” He’s a product, not a pup.
• Never give a dog as a gift. Everybody deserves to find their own heart dog.
So, if you’re not in a position to adopt on Mutt Day, there are still things you can do to help. Cash donations, from the price of a latte to larger amounts, all help shelters who typically run on a tight budget. Volunteer—dogs need practice walking on a leash, to fetch a ball or take treats gently. No time to volunteer? Drop off food, used towels or blankets, office supplies—every shelter has a wish list. Do it in memory of a dog who crossed the Rainbow Bridge or do it just because.
Raise awareness, twice a year, July 31 and December 2. National Mutt Day is the perfect time to meet a new friend and take him to his forever home.
Find more pet articles of all kinds in our pets section.