As Thanksgiving preparations take place on Thursday, Americans everywhere will take part in another holiday tradition: watching The National Dog Show Presented by Purina broadcast following the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade.
It’s an event we always watch—even though we’re fervent advocates of adoption and, on a personal level, absolutely in love with mixed breed dogs.
But rescue and dog shows can go paw in paw. In a phone interview with The National Dog Show expert commentator David Frei, he noted, “Every parent club like the Afghan Hound Club of America, for example, has a rescue body. If you’re interested in an Afghan Hound, you can go to that parent club’s Web page and find the rescue.” Frei suggested sites like the American Kennel Club which lists purebred rescue organizations for every breed seen in the telecast.
While Frei explained “the best thing about purebred dogs is the predictability,” this purebred dog expert’s own background with dogs began without a pedigree. “I never had a dog really as a kid growing up; I got a mixed breed dog when I was in college.” He reminded dog lovers that “every mixed breed dog has a purebred dog behind him. There are a lot of purebred dogs that started as mixed breed dogs when hundreds of years ago someone decided they liked the way this dog hunted or that one retrieved. There are so many great mixed breed dogs.”
This year a mixed breed dog—a Staffordshire and Boston Terrier mix named Vivian—will join two Dogues de Bordeaux named Li’l Abner and Stella as ambassadors of The National Dog Show Presented by the Purina Therapy Dog Ambassador program. Vivian, formerly used as a bait dog, was rescued and spent three months completing a prison dog training program run by the non-profit New Leash on Life at the Philadelphia Prison System. The program takes dogs that weren’t being adopted in the city’s shelters because of health or behavioral problems and boards them in a prison complex, where inmates then spend as much time with them as needed to train and better socialize the dogs in preparation for adoption.
Vivian graduated from the program and was adopted by a Veterinary Grief Counselor at PennVet. Vivian now helps comfort grieving pet lovers in need of canine-assisted therapy and regularly visits children at the Ronald McDonald House.
Photo of Vivian courtesy New Leash on Life