The In-between-ers

I just love, love, LOVE when someone asks me what my favorite breed or “type” of dog is. Those who know me well enough know that I am super biased towards pit bulls, so this is usually the type of answer one would except. But I get different reactions when I answer that hands down, my favorite type of dog is the 100%, purebred American Mutt. Eh. So.. it’s sort of a complex. But whatever.

Don’t get me wrong… I’m not hating on those purebred dogs whose mom and dad were of the same kind. Also, don’t mistake me for obsessing over the “designer” mutts (you know, the yorkie-poo, the labradoodle, the shishihuahuaweeweepoo, etc.) I know that there are reputable traits that are typically associated certain breeds (i.e. the herding ability of the border collie, the retrieving ability of the Labrador, etc). I understand that, ideally, if everyone were responsible breeders and pet owners and pet overpopulation wasn’t what it is today, I would certainly be able to answer that my favorite “breed” is the American Pit Bull Terrier. I love watching the AKC dog shows, because I’m able to see the beauty and reasoning behind domesticating man’s best friend.

Unfortunately, while dog breeding is out of control, I cannot truthfully answer the “breed” question without thinking of the underdogs. The less-than perfects. The easily passed up. The mixed-breeds. The mutts.

Shelters are chock-a-block full of these in-between-ers because of accidental, unwanted, and out of control breeding. (side note-there are tons of purebred dogs in shelters, also-they are usually sent to rescue).

With that being said, I do have a favorite type of mutt.

If you are familiar with dog rescue, you must know that pit bulls are a bit of a tough sell in today’s pet adoption market with people attempting to sort through the fact and fiction surrounding our four-legged, not-so-bully, bullies. One of my favorite quotes about pits is “If you don’t love pit bulls, you simply do not know enough about them.” Pit bulls have to jump through many more hoops than other dogs just to prove themselves worthy of living in today’s communities.

So what could possibly be an even harder sell than a pit bull?

What type of dog is the most frequently impounded in our shelter? What type of dogs are euthanized more frequently when adoptions are slow and space is limited? What type of dog is most likely to be passed up by potential adopters? Duh. The answer to all of these questions is those dogs who (no matter how creative you try to get) can only be labeled as none other than a pit bull mix

Not pit bull enough to be pulled by a rescue, but just enough that it has to be labeled that way. The mutty pit. The pit mutt. Whatever you want to call these lovable misfits.

Real life example.

I introduce Calvin. The most wiggly of them all. I mean seriously…this little man’s booty does. not. stop. He’s perfect in all ways–dog/cat friendly, heartworm negative, knows his basic commands, is crate trained, and is just all around good pup! Calvin attends numerous adoption, training, and socialization events, but just can not gather interest. He has been sitting in foster care–not because of behavior issues or any of that nonsense– but because rather than being seen as a well-rounded family dog, he is passed over as an ordinary pit bull mix. So. Lame.

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These are the dogs that have my heart. These somewhat “in-between-ers” if you will.  Even if you aren’t a huge pit-bull fan (I get it, some people just prefer other dogs for some strange reason tehe), if you are an animal lover, these dogs should matter to you. Errm. Why? Well–stay with me here–as long as these pit mixes are the most prominent “breed” pouring into our shelters, euthanasia rates cannot go down without **newsflash** getting them out of the shelters.

Pit bull mixes like Calvin will never make it without a little help. He can sit, and lick, and wiggle as much as he wants, but he can’t speak up for himself. If you can’t adopt a pit mix, foster one. If you can’t foster one, sponsor. If you can’t sponsor, volunteer with them. If you can’t volunteer, donate. If you can’t donate, advocate, share, crosspost, and maybe most importantly, EDUCATE!

I challenge you to open your heart a little more. Because, seriously. The in-between-ers need all the help they can get.

P.S. Here is Calvin’s pet finder. You need this dog in your life, and you can make that happen by clicking here. http://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/26891304/

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Impaired & Inspirational: Saving a Beautiful Life

4 fluffy, Australian Shepherd puppies were dropped off on the side of the road in a cardboard box, left to die.  Come on…fluffy puppies? What kind of person would do such a thing, and why? After being examined by our shelter veterinarian, it was determined that these 4 puppies had no retinas, making them completely blind.

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These were not by any means our typically favored pit bulls, but of course, my sister, Hilary, and I HAD to take them in. These 4 little boys all proved to have very keen, heightened senses. Often times, we had to tell people that they were unable to see, because they were so good at getting around, that their visual impairment was not very evident. For the short time we were able to have these boys in our care, they melted our hearts. These pups inspired everyone they met, and illustrated that each life is precious and simply not disposable, regardless of disabilities or impairments. If I were to meet the person who threw these boys out to die, I would show them the beautiful families and lives they have touched today. Adopted to wonderful families, one pup hangs out with his young active mom and dad attending socialization play dates with other dogs every Sunday morning. Another has 4 humans and a boston terrier brother to spend his days with while attending training courses. The third cuddles with his great dane friend and kicks back with his little human.

The final pup and his adopter my sister and I hold very near to our hearts, as she is our amazing relative, who also happened to be born with visual impairments.

My 19-year old cousin, Leah, has had vision difficulties since birth. This young lady absolutely has one of the biggest hearts of anyone I have ever met. She had continued to show interest in adopting and helping homeless animals since my sister and I got involved in animal rescue. When she saw a picture of one particular blind puppy, Leah immediately texted me to tell me that she would be talking to her parents that evening concerning the adopting this dog. Low and behold, her parents approved, and I was soon driving 40 minutes home in order sign paperwork and bring this pup to her. Later, Leah would come to tell me, “I remember when I first saw a picture of him and heard a little of his story…I instantly fell in love with him. That’s when I knew love at first sight was real. He makes me so happy.”

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She and my other younger cousin would soon come to name him Oreo, because of his creamy white and black coloring.

A life that was left out in a box on the side of the road. A precious pup that was cast out and deemed unworthy to live simply because its impairments were a little outside of the “normal”. A life now saved by a beautiful, young lady. Oreo is thriving in his current environment, as well as his brothers in their subsequent families. Oreo can not only “sit” and “shake”, but his senses are so heightened that he is also able to “fetch” and even climb stairs. These activities far surpassed my expectations of  this blind pup, and Leah continues to surprise my sister and I often with updates on Oreo’s new accomplishments. He even has a super cute head tilt when he is focusing or listening, and makes his way around obstacles with ease.

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If you were to meet Oreo today, other than a little head tilt, you might have no clue that he is blind. He is an inspiration to everyone he meets, especially his beloved owner. When I asked Leah if there was anything she would like me to add on Oreo’s story, she said,  “He has really inspired me to never give up on anything by what he has accomplished.

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We foster and adopt these unwanted animals, thinking that we are saving a life, when in actuality, we are the ones being saved. These once cast-aside dogs teach us what true appreciation and loyalty are, as it is ever evident in their smiles and tail wags, and they continue to inspire us with stories such as Oreo and his brothers’. A blind puppy tossed aside is now able to be a companion to and inspire his owner who relates with her own fair share of vision difficulties. In my eyes, that bond is difference enough to show that Oreo was absolutely “worthy”of a chance at life. A life once thrown out and deemed unwanted or unworthy is now a life able to bring just a little more hope into the world.