National Mutt Day was started in 2005 by Colleen Paige, a pet expert and animal welfare advocate. This day is about educating people and raising awareness to the plight of the mixed-breed dog, who is often homeless, lives on the streets, or is placed in shelters where he/she faces the very real possibility of being euthanized.
Let’s be clear: All dogs, whether purebred, designer, or mixed, are wonderful. Mixed-breed dogs, however, are just as cute, well-behaved, and healthy as their purebred counterparts. They can also lead a long and happy life.
When I was a kid, our dog, Duchess, was part Labrador Retriever and part terrier. She lived on the streets, and one day followed my father home–first, by foot, and then, when she felt her point wasn’t made clearly enough, she jumped into his car when it was stopped at a light. Duchess quickly became part of the family. She had a gorgeous labrador-like face, was extremely loyal and protective (especially to me) and had the distinctive terrier personality–fiesty, energetic, clever and tenacious (hence, the jumping-in-the-car.)
The point of this story: Don’t discount the mixed-breed dog; there are many reasons they make great pets, but here are just five reasons why should should consider bring a mixed-breed dog into your home:
1. They often inherit the best traits of their family tree. Some people even insist that mixed-breeds are healthier; it’s never really been proven, but think about it: If purebreds are prone to certain diseases, and if your dog possesses fewer of that breed’s genes, it does make sense.
2. They are often already trained. In many cases, these dogs already had an owner, but they might have been given away for reasons that had absolutely nothing to do with the dog. Especially today, with the financial crisis that often leads to high levels of foreclosures, many are forced to move into quarters that do not accept dogs. My neighbor’s dog came from a shelter; the dog was friendly, well-behaved, trained, socialized. “Someone clearly look very good care of this dog before you got him,” I said.
3. They adjust easily to most homes. Many breeds are known for specific temperments, traits and other issues; for instance, we should think about whether or not they make good pets for households with kids, or if they make good companions for the elderly–or any number of things. Mixed-breed dogs, though, have fewer of their lineage’s genes–and that makes it much easier for them to adjust in most homes.
3. They can still be service dogs. At one time, we only thought of certain breeds for service, but a mixed-breed is just as effective and appropriate, especially if they have specific genes in them. For instance, labradors are known for their guiding skills and poodes for their intelligence.
4. You can skip the puppy period. Raising a puppy is worthwhile, but hard work. It requires a lot of time, patience and energy–and some just don’t have that, and would rather skip this stage. With a mixed-breed shelter dog, you can.
5. Good karma. You’re saving a life. Period.