National Mixed Breed Dog Day, aka National Mutt Day, is celebrated twice a year, in July and December, to bring attention to the plight of mixed breed dogs. Mixed breed dogs actually make up more than 80% of the population in animal shelters!
Anyone who knows me, knows I am a rabid dog lover. I identify as a dog person. Nothing against cats, it’s just a fact that dogs are my people. My office walls pay homage to my obsession with all things canine. And I like *all* dogs…big, small, fluffy, scruffy, goofy, serious, playful, and lazy. While I am currently owned by two collies, I have loved and been loved by mixed breed dogs as well. I credit my survival in grad school to a border collie mix whose devotion knew no bounds. She was my heart dog and I think of her every day of my life.
So, let’s take a moment to celebrate mixed breed dogs and the authors, artists, and photographers they have inspired!
“One Good Dog,” by Susan Wilson is a beautiful work of fiction. It is the story of a very self-absorbed man, consumed by his career, and letting his personal relationships slide. He is disconnected from his family, something he realizes much too late. As he literally hits the bottom of the barrel, he finds hope in the form of a former fighting dog, a Pit Bull mix aptly named Chance. They end up saving each other and you will definitely need a box of tissues for this one.
“Dog Songs,” by Mary Oliver is a lovely collection of poetry and essays celebrating our canine companions. While I have read this short book many times, I think this passage is still my favorite, “Be prepared. A dog is adorable and noble. A dog is a true and loving friend. A dog is also a hedonist.”
“Dirty Bow Wow,” by Cheryl and Jeffrey Katz is a collection of photos and brief essays billed as “a tribute to dogs and the objects of their affection.” It is priceless. Meet Sadie and Blue Mush. Sadie came to her owners from Puerto Rico and that’s all they know about her other than the fact that she is a bit skittish and loves her blue fluffy lovey toy. And then there is Tank, a classic mutt, abused and homeless, before being adopted by a teen. Tank’s love? Why, squiggle dog, of course. This book is for every dog owner who has stepped on a squeaky toy in the middle of the night and heaved a sigh of relief that it wasn’t something else 😉
“Beloved Dog,” by Maira Kalman. Kalman is an artist and an author and this book is a work of art indeed. The paperback version is due out this October, but I can’t imagine owning it in any other format than the original hardcover edition. It is a colorful collection of images, thoughts, musings, and anecdotes memorializing the canines that have crossed paths with the author both literally and figuratively in the children’s books she has illustrated. It’s hard to pick my favorite thing about this book, but it just might be this quote, “And it is very true, that the most tender, uncomplicated, most generous part of our being blossoms, without any effort, when it comes to the love of a dog.”
My coffee table is covered with books, most of which celebrate my love affair with dogs. However, none gets thumbed through as much as my copy of, “The Dogist,” by Elias Weiss Friedman. This amazing book is filled with candid photographs of all kinds of dogs. Friedman always has his camera at the ready to capture a canine expression, body posture, silly costume, or quirky detail. He even has a treat in his pocket for his canine subjects once he has captured their images… and included with many of the photos is a brief blurb about the dog in the picture. I love the one-eyed dogs who all look like they are winking. And the dogs trying to look cool while wearing shoes. And the ones with beards. Oh well, you get the picture. I love them all. And you can follow Friedman on Instagram, @TheDogist, as he travels the country immortalizing (wo)man’s best friend.