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The VOTES are in . . .We are pleased to announce that America has selected the GREAT AMERICAN MUTT of 2004!
Congratulations however need to go first to all Five Finalists, all Twelve Finalists and all 1,506 entries… as each and every mutt is a star, and every one had an amazing story to be told of love, compassion, ability, agility, care and companionship.
The five finalist were "Blue", "Jameela", "Lucky", "Oscar" and "Toby".
And the winner is Toby!
Mix: Border Collie Mix
State: U.S. Army Base, Germany
Birth Year: 2001
Where did you find your mixed-breed? Charlottesville-Albemarle SPCA, Virginia
All About Toby
Toby lives with his family stationed on a U.S. Army Base in Germany. Toby was born with NO EYES and came to the shelter after wandering around the Virginia countryside. We feared the worst for him. We fell in love with Toby's sweet spirit and intelligence. We adopted him in February 2004. He underwent surgery to close his open eyelids. He settled quickly into our home and amazes us with his ability to get around. He learned basic obedience very quickly with the help of hot dogs and encouragement. He is always quick to give kisses, sit in your lap, or snuggle, making each day a joy. He is the greatest dog we have ever known. There are wonderful books available to help owners of blind and low-vision dogs. Toby is a portrait of canine courage and perseverance. Meeting him for the first time, you don't even notice, until told, that he has no eyes… because he's so amazing. He melts the heart of everyone who meets him. Don't pass up dogs who may not appear "perfect" at first glance….they could be a precious gift, just waiting in a kennel, for you to open the door. Open your heart and home to a blind dog….because blind dogs really do see with their hearts!
I was working at the Charlottesville-Albemarle SPCA at the front desk when Toby came in to the shelter on a freezing January day. The entire staff was stunned to see this little dog with empty red spots where his eyes should be. He was so pitiful looking, it was hard to look him square in the face. The vet confirmed that he was probably born without eyes. We were baffled as to how this dog could have survived wandering around with no eyes in the cold. He also had many broken and missing teeth. Toby sat in the shelter for a month. Nobody wanted to even look at him for adoption since he was so upsetting to behold. Toby still had all the muscles, tear ducts, and eyelashes of a normal dog. He would cry and streams would run down his little face. Toby has little brown "false eyes" though that sit on his browbone. You can tell when he's listening, "looking", and dreaming by watching his false eyes dart around.
There was a policy at the shelter that employees could not adopt an animal until three months of employment. After a month of sitting, I was becoming very fearful of euthanasia for him unless adopted quickly. I would go and sit in his kennel with him as he would chew on the chain link door and whine. As soon as I sat down with him, he would crawl into my lap, softly whimper, and lick my entire face. I could not let this dog end his life like this. I went to the shelter manager and pled my case. I begged for her to let me take Toby home. Thankfully, she agreed to a trial to see how he fit into our home. I then had to break it to my husband that we were getting another dog…on top of our 12 year old stray, Dixie, that found us 11 years ago…our 16 year old Persian, Gertrude, who was rescued, and my Lipizzan horse, Valiant. It is a big adjustment taking on another animal when you move as much as we do.
Toby came home with us and never went back. One of the volunteers at the shelter donated the money for Toby's neuter. We took him in for his neuter and had his eyelids surgically closed to prevent continual infection. He healed beautifully and hasn't missed a beat since.
We are convinced that Toby has radar. Like a bat, he will be headed straight for a piece of furniture…or a tree…only to duck sideways around it at the last moment. It is amazing to watch. He just needs a little help getting his bearing when he wakes up from a snooze. He memorizes the layout of any new location within a day.
He is a master watchdog. He hears everything and would defend us to the death from any creature of any size. He's really a lover, not a fighter though. Kisses and snuggling are his favorite activities…even more than eating.
His "sister", Dixie, a Shepherd/Husky mix is his "seeing eye dog" on walks. Dixie gives him tough love and keeps him on the straight and narrow. She in exchange, feels inclined to take advantage by stealing his treats when he's not paying attention. Toby spends his time here in Germany cruising with his sister in the shopping areas where dogs are very welcome. He gets many admirers and water wherever he goes. He must know German, because when they talk sweet to him, he licks their faces. His favorite activity is walking in the forest, Kafertal Wald, next to our housing area. There are wild boar, goats, deer, and even bison in an enclosure. He stops and listens very quietly and carefully when the boar come to eat the carrots we bring them. The entire family is part of Toby's pack…he doesn't care what species you are…and that is what makes him so special. I wish everyone could be more like Toby – resilient, courageous, loyal, accepting, and unconditionally loving.
This is the fourth year of crowing America's Great American Mutt! Previously, Tails In Need has hosted shows like the one held in 2002. This was a wonderful show held in New York's Central Park, called The Great American Mutt Show! Dogs of multiple or questionable lineage were welcome with. Categories of competition including "What Else Am I?", "Best Trick" and "Highest Jumper". The finalists competed for "Best in Show." The "Best in Show" winner was an 11 year old German Shepherd/Whippet or Greyhound/ Terrier mix, named Brandon.
The celebration of the mutt is being underwritten by Tails in Need, a not-for-profit foundation that promotes public awareness with regards to the value of adopting mixed breed, unwanted and abandoned animals. Tails in Need operates through donations, using events such as the Great American Mutt Show to encourage adoption of animals as well as spay and neuter programs.
For more information, Please go to http://www.tailsinneed.com/gamc_2004_finalists.html for full details!