Let’s celebrate the mutt every day!

Yesterday was National Mutt Day, but really, shouldn’t we celebrate mutts every day? Every dog of mixed breed origin is a one-of-a-kind creation — someone who should be celebrated — with unique characteristics that melt the heart of their humans, usually at first sight.

That was what happened for me with Stanley. I met him a few years ago in Atlanta, where he was having a hard time finding a home due to his sassy, sometimes snappy behavior. I took one look at his silly grin, boasting both an underbite and snaggle teeth (double winner!), and was instantly smitten.

Little Stanley is a gent of a certain age, weighs about 20 pounds and has beautiful fluffy orange-and-white fur. Perhaps he’s part King Charles Cavalier, perhaps he has a bit of terrier with a dash of cocker spaniel. It doesn’t matter to me. I just know that he’s perfect for our family, which includes our awesome shepherd mix, Shadow, and two cats.

Since March, when COVID-19 broke out, one of the few silver linings is that pets have been adopted in record numbers — nearly a million in the last eight months alone! Pet adoption has become so popular that some people are having a hard time finding a dog of their own.

The U.S. isn’t really running out of dogs, however. Go on Petfinder.com today and you’ll see there are nearly 65,000 dogs available for adoption across the country, and this doesn’t even represent all the nation’s adoptable dogs, many of which are mutts.

While there are many benefits to adopting a mixed-breed dog, one of the best is knowing that you’re saving a life. Dogs of all kinds can lose their homes because of issues that are no fault of their own — like financial crisis, divorce or a death in the family. These dogs are waiting in shelters and rescue groups, eager for someone to fall in love with them and take them home. As has been my experience with both Shadow and Stanley, adopted dogs seem to know that they have been given a second chance, and they repay their families with a lifetime of unconditional love.

Another benefit: Mutts tend to be healthier than purebred dogs. Their multi-breed mix means they are less likely to have the congenital defects and diseases that often result from in-breeding in purebreds. Mutts also generally have longer, healthier lives with fewer veterinary bills and happier, more stable temperaments.

And let’s dispel this myth about “oodles,” which have become very popular. Although bred on purpose, these dogs are still mutts, as are puggles, chorkies, cavachons and chiweenies, which can sell for as much as $1,000 to $4,000. These dogs, whether bred intentionally or naturally occurring, get surrendered for the same reasons that any other dog would and can often be found in shelters for a reasonable adoption fee.

So, if you’re in the market for a new best friend, take a look around and keep an open mind. Like me, your heart just might get stolen by a majestic mutt.

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