Mutts Matter. If you follow me, you'll know that I'm a passionate supporter of shelter dog adoption, if not, read on.
Each year I photograph the Sandton SPCA's annual fundraising calendar which has created over R1 million for the charity to date (the calendar project has been going since 2012) and made quite a variety of rescue dogs (and the odd cat) famous.
The 2018 calendar features mixed breed mutts adopted from a selection of shelters across Gauteng. I chose to focus on mutts in particular to tie in with Mutts the Book and because I really feel that something needs to be done to promote the mixed breed dogs who sit in shelters not just in SA but throughout the world.
Our line up included mutts big and small to showcase the variety of shapes, sizes and hairstyles you'll find at a shelter :)
Miles is Mr January. This handsome fella found himself at Sandton SPCA and was adopted and retuned TWICE before his forever Mom clapped eyes on him and took him home for good. Not only has this tough little guy survived multiple rejections, he also survived the removal of a huge cancerous tumour from his stomach (he's happy and healthy now). Miles lives with his parents and three rescue dog siblings and enjoys long walks at the park and lots of love and attention.
Chappie is the February poster boy. Adopted from Kitty & Puppy Haven as a shy teenage puppy, this guy has come on in leaps and bounds. Chappie (so called because of his chewing habit) has grown into a super smart dog and companion to his doggy sister Sally and human baby brother. Thankfully the chewing has lessened. Apparently at the height of his itchy teeth phase Chappie could make large pieces of furniture disappear.
If there was an award for 'most unusual dog ears' Tutu would be the winner. This enormous pup was rescued from a township as a 5 week old baby by Ark Animal Centre. His mom adopted him at 8 weeks old when he weighed just 3 kgs. He's now ten times that weight and loves to go everywhere with his human parents.
The unique ear shapes continue with Sassy. Adopted from Wet Nose in 2009, Sassy has literally been a life saver. Six years ago her Mom had a bad reaction to some penicillin and passed out in the bath. Sassy managed to alert her dad by pulling on his arm and he was able to get mom to hospital for treatment. Sassy's heroic behaviour started a trend in her house which she now shares with 5 other rescue dogs.
Charlotte, Miss May. Charlotte was adopted from CLAW in 2009 after she'd been hit by a car and had to have her leg amputated. Whilst she was at the clinic, she made friends with another brown mutt called Lucy, so her mom was left with no choice but to adopt them both together. Despite only having three good legs, Charlotte loves to play frisbee and her favourite weekend activity is running with her mom.
Billy was adopted from Pawsome Whacky Whiskers in 2013 and despite only being a youngster he was diagnosed with diabetes shortly afterwards. Being diabetic means he's on a strictly controlled diet, which makes him a bit sad because he's obsessed with food. If Billy was a person, he'd have his own foodie blog. A few months before the calendar shoot, Billy had a double cataract removal so he was very happy to show off his new eyes.
With more energy than a toddler after eating a bag of sweets, Gibsy is a bundle of fun. Adopted from Sandton SPCA at 11 months old, this kooky pooch has overcome many hurdles. Gibsy was terrified of men initially, probably as a result of some abuse, so it took her quite some time to be ok around guys. Now she's happy when anybody visits her and takes great pleasure in showing them her crazy repertoire of zooming around the garden and leaping into the pool.
Inherently intelligent and with no formal training, Honey is a pro when it comes to tricks and obeying commands. All she did was watch her Labrador brother Bear (who attended advanced training classes) and she learned everything she needed to. Adopted from Kitty and Puppy Haven at 5 months old after being rescued from an informal settlement, Honey has charmed her way into family life. Loving, loyal and super healthy, this rescue mutt is the apple of her parents' eyes.
Tiny tot Lulu-Belle was adopted from Sandton SPCA after being abandoned as a very young puppy with a badly broken leg. Her parents took one look at her and fell in love with her fluffy good looks and super sweet personality. Looking a bit like a Yorkie, but behaving nothing like one, Lulu-Belle now shares her home with her two older rescue dog siblings and totally rules the roost (in the nicest possible way of course).
Leo, King of the House. This quirky character was adopted from Sandton SPCA as a 3 month old Jack Russell X puppy. He's now the size of a German Shepherd. Leo loves to swim regardless of the weather and when he's not taking long walks through the neighbourhood with his parents, you'll find him playing with his friends at doggy day care. Once he comes home, he likes to put his feet up on the couch, literally in the air as he lies on his back for a snooze.
Meet Mauri, the luckiest and most expensive stray dog in South Africa. Found on a beach in Mauritius as a young pup by her dad when he was on holiday, this lucky pup now lives in the lap of luxury here in SA. The process of rescuing her from a life of abuse and illness in Mauritius to getting her flown to SA took two months and a small fortune, but here she is in all her glory representing for international mutts.
Cover star Blitz is another life saving rescue dog. One of many Kitty and Puppy Haven adoptees in the calendar, this lively little chap will be a diabetic service dog when he grows up. Blitz's mom has type 1 diabetes and often suffers from severe low blood sugar levels, most frequently at night when she's asleep. Undetected this could lead to her falling into a diabetic coma, Blitz's job will be to wake her up when he senses she's in danger so she can correct her sugar levels. Blitz didn't get the memo about having to wait for his big dog formal training and he's already doing his job waking his mom up at least ten times to date. Pretty impressive for a shelter mutt.
Last but not least is Oscar. Found and rescued by Animal Ambulance in 2008 after being left to starve to death tied to a pole as a puppy, this lovely lad now enjoys relaxing on the couch with his Mom and doggy siblings. Chilled and friendly, Oscar is enjoying retirement.
I hope this post gives you a good idea of the variety of dogs available from a shelter, how much they add to their human's lives and what you're missing out on by not adopting. You can find information about the various shelters quoted here -
To get your paws on a copy of the 2018 Sandton SPCA calendar, please send me an email - emma (at) emmaobrien.com