Why Mixed Breed Dogs Rock

December 2nd marks National Mutt Day, a day to celebrate mixed breed dogs and bring awareness to the number of mixed breed dogs waiting in shelters for homes. These dogs are often passed over by potential adopters because they aren’t “pure bred;” however, they tend to be some of the healthiest dogs and can have great personalities. We thought it would be a good opportunity to share a personal story of one of our employees’ favorite mutts and her search for a forever home. Becki Francis, our laser therapy technician, found Zelda while working as a behaviorist at an animal shelter.

Zelda’s Story

Zelda chilling outZelda was brought to the city shelter at just a year old. Her owner was staying with a friend, and when they found a permanent place to live, they left Zelda behind. It quickly became apparent that Zelda had never been taught to walk on a leash. Getting her out of her kennel for potty breaks was at minimum a 15-minute task. She would dodge the leash being put over her head, and once it was, she would bite at and grab a hold of the leash during the walk out of the building. However, when the staff and volunteers would take her to one of the exercise yards, she enjoyed chasing the ball and playing tug. She was so full of life and personality. Because she was so difficult to get out of her kennel, she remained off of the adoption floor for quite some time.

A class was started for volunteers to take dogs who needed work on their manners, and Zelda was quickly signed up. Two volunteers took Zelda under their wings; between the two of them, they made sure she went to class each week and got out to work on her leash manners every day. The leash-biting behavior became her “go-to” when she didn’t know what to do or got overwhelmed. It was a frequent occurrence for Zelda’s handlers to get so frustrated with her mouthing behavior that they were almost in tears. On the other hand, when the instructor would approach them to assist, Zelda would sit and look to him attentively. When he took the leash, she would pay attention and perform the tasks he asked of her. It became a running joke that she was the “teacher’s pet.” Agility exercises were added to the class, which required Zelda to perform more physical activities at the handler’s command. The volunteers started paying for her to attend doggy daycare as an outlet for her energy and to see how she was with other dogs. Clearly, Zelda would require an experienced owner who most likely would have other dogs.

who happened to be Becki’s boyfriend. They already had four dogs of their own and roommates, and were preparing to move to New Orleans. Maybe they could foster her for the two weeks until they left for a scouting trip to the city?

Zelda and her new family.During that time period it was amazing to see how comfortable she was being with other dogs and how much she enjoyed the peacefulness of a home. Zelda returned to the shelter during their trip, but lucky for her there was an opening in her foster home. Their 13-year-old golden retriever who had been battling cancer took a turn for the worse and had to be put down. It looked like Zelda would be making the move with them and becoming the teacher’s actual pet. She acclimated well to her new home, finding comfort in a steady routine that included regular leash walks, time in her crate, and play sessions with the other dogs. Her resource guarding diminished over time once she realized that she didn’t have to compete with the other dogs for food or toys. Clear, consistent guidance in a home environment was what she needed to blossom into the happy-go-lucky pet she is today. Today her favorite activities include playing with toys with the other dogs and snuggling with her people.

Zelda is the poster “pup” for what can happen when dogs are given the chance they deserve to succeed. Mixed breed dogs can make wonderful pets. Love your mutt, and if you are lacking one to love, go out and adopt one today!

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