- Chapter One
- Chapter Two
Famous and Historic Mutts
- Chapter Three
Mutts of War
- Chapter Four
- Chapter Five
- Chapter Six
- Chapter Seven
Mutts Who Lend a Helping Paw
- Chapter Eight
- Chapter Nine
Magnificent Mutts Across America
- Chapter Ten
- Suggested Reading
Finally, a book that goes beyond airbrushed, coffee-table
collections of show-winning purebreds and gets to the heart of the
human-dog matter! A soul-warming collection of stories and photos
celebrating the shining star of dogdom---the mutt.
--Susan Chernak McElroy
Animals as Teachers and Healers
A delightful kaleidoscope of mixed-breed fairy tales come
true. Americans love underdogs and theyll be captured by Derricos
vignettes of mutts who have overcome long odds to win the hearts
of owners---from common folks to presidents and from a network of
postal workers to an infantry regiment.
Columnist, Seattle Times
At last a book celebrating the most distinctive dog of all
time---the ubiquitous, individualistic mutt. Anyone who has ever
loved a one-of-a-kind canine will find Karen Derricos book
not only enjoyable and informative, but affirming of the power of
the human-dog bond.
--Mary Elizabeth Thurston
The Lost History of the Canine Race
If you love dogs, youll love Unforgettable Mutts.
You owe it to your mutt to read him or her this book.
--Jeffrey Moussaieff Mason
Dogs Never Lie About Love
In my 25 plus years with The Humane Society of the United
States, Ive seen many outstanding animal-focused books come
across my desk. Unforgettable Mutts is one of the best Ive
--John Dommers, The Humane Society of the United States
is a lifelong animal lover and advocate. After learning that 75
percent of all dogs entering U.S. animal shelters each year are
mutts, she became determined to publicize their value as cherished
animal companions. This book is a result of more than four years
of research, compiling photos, stories and resources from across
the United States.
Through her writing, Derrico has become a strong voice for needy
and homeless pets. Her publishing work on behalf of animals has
earned her acclaim and recognition in broadcast and print, including
the L.A. Times, Orange County Register, and radio
talk shows nationally.
Derrico was editor and publisher for Pet Gazette Magazine for
six years, and The Pet Lovers Directory, and has also
written freelance articles for several pet related publications.
She currently lives in Northern Virginia with her husband and son
and her two lovable mutts, Barney (left) and Zelda.
FOREWORD | INTRODUCTION
| ABOUT THIS BOOK | RETURN
by Susan Chernak McElroy
It has been a long time, too long, since I have revisited my warmest
memories of my beloved mutts. However, after reading Karen Derricos
book, Unforgettable Mutts, I reminisced on the purest and simplest
joys I have had with dogs. In reading about other mutts and their
people, I found myself basking in the wonder of a dogs devotion,
joy, and wordless companionship. The most priceless power of a persons
story is its ability to evoke remembrances for others. This thoughtful
and heartfelt celebration of muttdom will call forth
treasured memories for anyone who has ever given her or his heart
to a mutt.
My first mutt, Keesha, was my animal companion for nearly eleven
years. Keesha, a shepherd and malamute mix, was, I thought, from
the best of all possible dog worlds. She brought me the devotion
of her shepherd ancestry, the independence of her sled-dog heritage,
and the unique beauty of blended breeds. A mutt myself of German
and Czechoslovakian ancestry, I brought to Keesha my solid Teutonic
heritage, spiced with a wild dash of Hungarian gypsy---my grandmothers
gift to me. Keesha and I were partners no word describes
our union better.
When Keesha died, it was eleven years before another dog began
calling to me again. At first, I dreamt about her. She showed herself
over and over in my dreams, clear as spring water, vivid as autumn,
so that I would recognize her instantly in waking time. She was
a collie and shepherd mix, and maybe something else. Brown and furry
beyond belief with eyes like brown topaz. Her name would be Arrow.
Four months later, she made her appearance at an animal shelter.
She was one of five skinny puppies rescued from a pier in Seattle.
When I walked into the room she stood up and looked squarely at
me. I burst into tears in that moment of recognition.
Today, Arrow rests at my feet as I write. She is six years old
and in her glorious prime. We have another dog, too, Strongheart.
He is a purebred Anatolian Shepherd who protects our family, but
it is Arrow, the mutt, who remains the guardian of my soul.
Unforgettable Mutts is more than a validation to those of
us who have loved mixed-breed dogs. It is also an important testimony
against prejudice. This fascination we humans seem to have with
blood purity, breeding, and origins has been a root cause of the
suffering of millions of living beings, human and animal.
I question this notion of blood purity at the canine level as well
as at the human level. I remember some of the challenges my parents
faced with our first two family dogs, Lady and Sugar, who were purebreds.
Lady was crippled by hip dysplasia when she was only six months
old. Sugar, at eight months, had been shuttled to four different
homes because she did not live up to her show-dog potential. She
was a coal-black shepherd and her color was not prized in the show
ring back then.
Strongheart, my current purebred dog, has been diagnosed with a
peculiar auto-immune disorder, and his back legs are not strong.
There is no question in my mind that these three dogs of mine have
suffered just a few of the consequences of being pure of breed.
Often, I have wondered, What has happened to us? Why are our hearts
so hardened and our vision so corrupted with shallow appearances
and a false image of value? How can people learn to see the worth,
the vitality, and the enormous heart of the mutt?
Certainly, Karen Derrico sees the mutts soul. Her devotion
to a dogs purity of heart is evident in her writing.
Her enthusiastic effort on behalf of these enchanting and devoted
animals is admirable. Unforgettable Mutts so overflows with the
essence of the pure heart and the nobility of the mixed-blood, that
mutt owners everywhere will have to take precautions to keep themselves
from bursting with pride.
The next time you are called to find an animal companion, sit down
and re-read this very special book that you hold in your hands.
Then, go search for that one-of-a-kind mutt that the universe will
never see again.
--Susan Chernak McElroy, Brightstar Farm
FOREWORD | INTRODUCTION
| ABOUT THIS BOOK | RETURN
by Karen Derrico
The Ugly Mutt Story That
dog is so ugly, and hes just a mutt! I want a purebred dog.
You know, like a German shepherd or a collie. Those were the
words of my husband, Jack, when I brought our first dog, Barney,
home from the animal shelter. Ill never forget that day. It
was August 1988, we had been married less than a year, and had just
moved into our first house in Southern California. Adding a dog
to our household was probably the last thing on Jacks mind,
and the first thing on mine.
I have always loved dogs, and had grown up with several, but was
unable to have pets in the apartments I lived in before getting
married. I visited my mother frequently to get my dog fix
from Simba, Caviar, and Chloe (all mutts), but still longed to have
a dog of my own.
About a month after moving into our house, I was driving
home from work one day, when all of the sudden it was as if my car
switched to auto-pilot. The next thing I knew, I was pulling into
the parking lot of the local animal shelter. Amazingly, I had never
actually been to an animal shelter before, since all of the dogs
I had as a child were brought home by my parents. I wasnt
sure what to expect, and wasn,t sure how I ended up there, but without
a moments hesitation, I hopped out of the car and headed straight
for the entrance.
There were only a few dogs at the shelter that day,
but once I saw Barney I knew why I ended up there on this particular
day. He looked like a cross between Benji and Tramp (the dog from
the movie The Lady and the Tramp), and had such a loving, happy-go-lucky
disposition. When I took him out to the play area, we bonded instantly.
He was about a year old, and was brought in by a woman
who found him wandering the streets, covered in chewing gum and
dirt. She wanted to keep him, but was living in a small apartment,
and already had another dog. The shelter manager told me that the
woman was crying hysterically when she brought Barney in, concerned
that he might not be adopted, and may have to be euthanized. Since
I knew I was adopting him, I asked for her phone number to let her
know that Barney had found a good home. Then I filled out the adoption
paperwork, and Barney and I were on our way.
On the drive home I was nervous anticipating how Jack
would react. As soon as we walked through the door, Barney ran directly
over to Jack as if he,d known him all his life, his tail wagging
furiously, and smothering him with kisses. Surely I thought Jack
would fall instantly in love. Boy was I wrong! That
night Barney and I camped out together on the living room floor
because Jack refused to allow him in the bedroom. And the next morning,
Jack insisted that I take Barney back to the shelter because he
didn,t want a mutt. But after a few hours of pleading, I finally
convinced him to give Barney a chance.
By the end of the first week, Barney was sleeping
on our bed (sometimes under the covers), and soon thereafter, Jack
was referring to him as his kid. Over the next several
months I watched with great joy as their bond grew deeper. The dog
that Jack initially referred to as an ugly mutt, had
become the most wonderful dog in the world to him. Fortunately,
since Barney had already paved the way, things went a lot smoother
when I adopted our next mutt, Zelda, a few years later.
Barney, Zelda, and all of the dogs in this book are lucky,
they were given the chance that millions of other mutts may never
have. According to The Humane Society of the United States, approximately
75 percent of all dogs entering animal shelters each year are mutts.
Although some are adopted, between one and two million mixed-breed
dogs are euthanized.
People are often hesitant to adopt a mutt because
they are not sure what personality traits the dog will have, or
they are under the common misconception that if a dog is not purebred,
he or she must be somehow defective.This, of course, could not be
further from the truth.
But the main problem facing all dogs in this country,
whether mutts or purebreds, is the pet overpopulation crisis. Between
two to four million dogs are sadly destroyed in animal shelters
each year. One of the main causes for this horrible statistic is
pet owners who do not spay or neuter their dogs. In just six years,
it is estimated that one unspayed female dog and her un-neutered
and unspayed offspring can produce up to 67,000 puppies. Adopting
a dog is saving a life, but if the dog is not immediately spayed
or neutered, many other dogs will perish, simply because there are
not enough homes for them.
FOREWORD | INTRODUCTION
| ABOUT THIS BOOK | RETURN
About This Book
It has always bothered me that mutts are considered the outcasts
of the dog world, but it really hit home after we adopted Barney
and Zelda. Many people would stop us, and still do, to ask what
type of dogs they are. When we tell people they are mutts, the typical
response is usually oh really, punctuated with a disappointed
facial expression and tone of voice. After realizing that Jack was
not the only one who had a terrible misconception about mutts, I
became determined to do something about it.
I started a regional pet magazine in Orange County,
California called Pet Gazette, featuring photos and descriptions
of pets for adoption at neighborhood animal shelters. Barney even
had his very own column, Dear Barney, where readers
wrote in with questions about their pets. Many dogs were adopted
as a result of my magazine, but I knew I had a long way to go. There
were still millions of homeless mutts across the United States,
and millions of people who needed convincing about how wonderful
these dogs really are.
Thinking of everything short of going on the Oprah
show to get the word out, I decided a book would provide the best
publicity for mutts on a national level. I sent a press release
and a photo of Barney to newspapers nationwide, calling for photos
and stories about mixed-breed dogs for my book. More than twenty
newspapers ran my article, and I received nearly two thousand submissions
from mutt lovers coast to coast.
There were so many wonderful stories and photos, it
was extremely difficult selecting which ones to include in the book.
But after several months of poring through submissions, I finally
narrowed it down to a strong representation of the millions of magnificent
mutts across America.
The result, Unforgettable Mutts: Pure of Heart
Not of Breed, is a celebration and tribute to mutts past and
present. Shadow, the scuba diving labrador mix; Josh the Wonder
Dog who ran for U.S. President; Owney, the U.S. postal mascot
who traveled around the world; Ginny, a terrier mix who rescues
abandoned cats; and Runway, who gets around in a canine wheelchair,
are just a few of the inspiring and heartwarming tales inside this
But this book is not just about mutts, its also
about the caring people who have taken these special dogs into their
homes and hearts. During his presidency, Lyndon Johnson took in
a small white stray named Yuki, who was his constant companion at
the White House; Hollywood animal trainer, Frank Inn, rescued the
famous Benji from a Los Angeles animal shelter; and Nipper, the
RCA mascot was rescued from a medical research lab by the Dawn Animal
Agency. Most of the people in this book, however, are not famous
celebrities or presidents, theyre just every day people with
extraordinary hearts who have recognized that beauty is more
If you are not a mutt owner, but are considering adopting
one, hopefully this book will convince you to consider a mixed-breed
dog. The Resources section includes listings for several pet adoption
web sites and recommended books to assist you in your search for
a marvelous mutt or purebred dog, as well as listings on a wide
variety of dog-related resources from fun activities and contests
to mutt clubs and more.
It is my hope that Unforgettable Mutts will give mixed-breed
dogs the long overdue recognition they deserve. I love all dogs,
whether mutts or purebred, but most importantly I believe that every
dog deserves an equal chance for a loving family and a place to
call home, regardless of heritage. The dogs and people in this book
offer us an essential lesson about unconditional love. As Jane Lidz,
author of Zak: The One-of-a-Kind Dog, so perfectly expressed it,
We are all one of a kind, yet we are all one.
Author, Unforgettable Mutts
FOREWORD | INTRODUCTION
| ABOUT THIS BOOK | RETURN