I'm a photographer on a mission: to champion the cause of mixed breed dogs and encourage people to adopt from shelters rather than buying dogs from breeders or pet stores. Approximately 1300 dogs are euthanised each DAY in South Africa (it's about 8000 per DAY in the USA) and many of these will be mixed breed dogs that are unable to find homes.
I've started the MUTTS project to highlight the unique beauty and individuality of mixed breed dogs and my aim is to break down misconceptions people have about rescue dogs so that adopting from a shelter is a first choice for a prospective dog parent. If you're someone who'd rather adopt a puppy than an adult dog, have no fear, there are always an abundance of baby dogs at shelters needing homes too.
Mixed breed dogs are often overlooked and make up the majority of dogs available for adoption in South African shelters. On the odd occasion that a pedigree dog finds its way to a shelter, people fall over themselves to adopt, yet the excitement level is low for the MUTTS. That's something I'd like to change.
I'm a massive fan of mixed breed dogs (there are 4 in my house). Each one is a 'one-off', never to be repeated pooch with unique looks and a quirky personality to match. MUTTS tend to live longer and be healthier than pedigree dogs and if you acquire one as a puppy it's like getting a lucky packet dog as you'll have no idea what he or she will look like until they are fully grown. I like surprises (and big dogs), so this makes me very happy. I'm patiently waiting on the end result of my five month old twin MUTTS Edward and Victoria. I suspect 'big' is going to be on the agenda with this pair (photo at the end of the post).
I regularly volunteer my time to photograph the dogs at two local shelters in Johannesburg and the majority of dogs I meet and photograph are MUTTS. So in order to encourage people to join the 'MUTT club' I've shot a series of portraits of mixed breed dogs who have been adopted and written up their stories so I can share the wonder of these beautiful animals with the rest of the world. Hopefully people will see these dogs as extra special rather than overlook them for being too ordinary and more MUTTS can enjoy forever homes like these guys.
More info: adoptionistheonlyoption.com
#1 Victoria And Edward - The Twins. This Pair Of Naughties Formed Part Of A Set Of Three Puppies I Volunteered To Bottle Feed After They Were Orphaned At 3 Days Old
One of the pups got adopted, but I couldn't bear to part with the other two, so they have stayed. It's difficult to describe the level of naughty, but when they are not up to mischief, these two have been very easy to train and are super obedient when they are being bribed with treats. Their final size remains to be seen, but I'm betting on large.
#2 Max Was Adopted From Germiston Spca Where He Was Originally Advertised As Being A Girl (he Does Have Very Nice Hair) And Was Initially Very Withdrawn And Shy, Probably As A Result Of Having Been Abused
Max has been quite a challenging rescue for his adoptive Mom, but she says that as a result of working through his issues, she has managing a multi dog household down to a fine art because he has taught her so much. Now that he has settled into his forever home, Max loves nothing more than playing with a tennis ball (he doesn't fetch it, he just carries it) and cuddles with his humans.
#3 Juno's Adoption Story Began With Her Mom Seeing Her Photo On Facebook And Falling In Love Immediately, And Culminated In A 14 Hour Road Trip To Collect Her From The Other Side Of The Country
Juno was part of a litter of unwanted puppies who found themselves at an SPCA and from her humble beginning, her life has been transformed. Juno goes to the stables with her Mom and doggy siblings at the weekends and her favourite activity is stealing socks!
#4 Gunter Was Adopted As A Small Puppy By His New Family Along With Another Puppy From A Different Litter Who Was Also At The Shelter Waiting For A Home (the Children Refused To Leave Without Her)
Gunter settled well info family life with his 'sister' and three human siblings whose treehouse and slide he makes use of to entertain himself in the garden.
#5 Teddy Is A Big Mommy's Boy Who Loves To Cuddle
He started off as a very shy puppy and he has grown into a huge and very playful dog. Teddy is a fast learner, it only takes him a couple of goes to learn a new trick and his biggest problem in life is making sure the resident hoopoes stay out of his garden.
#6 Scooby, So Named Because He Was Scared Of His Own Shadow When His Mom First Met Him, Was Adopted From Sandton Spca As An 8 Month Old Puppy
It took weeks for his Mom to gain his trust as it is likely he was subjected to abuse by the previous humans he encountered, making him very unsure of new people. Fast forward several years and Scooby is a very happy and very big dog. Scooby's parents had not long been living in Joburg when they adopted him, so having a new dog to care for, train and exercise meant that they made some great new friends at the dog park and quickly settled in thanks to their new four legged friend.
#7 Sam, Known As 'grandpa' At Ark Animal Centre Where He Was Adopted From, Is An Older Gentleman With An Enormous Sense Of Fun
Sam's Mom was looking for an older dog to adopt (she deserves a round of applause for being one of the few people who are prepared to take a senior dog) and he fitted the bill perfectly. Sam spins around enthusiastically for a few minutes before eating a treat or having his lead put on, he likes to celebrate whenever something happens that makes him happy.
#8 Charlie. This Guy Has The Best Beard I've Ever Seen On A Dog And The Most Beautiful Markings
Charlie was adopted from Woolies as an 8 month old puppy and slotted straight in to family life. Charlie helps with household chores such as digging the garden and pre-washing the dishes. He also has a penchant for water, the left slipper out of every pair his Mom has bought and watching humans use the bathroom.
#9 Maya Spent The Best Part Of 18 Months At A Shelter Before She Was Adopted
Apparently her previous owner had given her away because she wasn't an effective guard dog. Maya isn't exactly top of the class when it comes to performing doggy duties: she was ejected from obedience class for her unwillingness to stay (she wanted to be with her Mom) and suffered the same fate in agility because she wasn't really interested. She does however get full marks for being a loving, loyal and all round super family member.
#10 Scarlet Had A Tough Life Living In A South African Township Before She Found Her Forever Home At Around 7 Years Old
When her Mom adopted her, Scarlet had worn down teeth, a limp due to a previously broken (and untreated) leg and she looked like she'd had countless litters of puppies. This gentle old lady settled well into her new home last year and her favourite activities are; being carried around like a baby (tricky when she weighs over 25kgs) and looking after the smaller doggy members of the household.