Holy mackerel, baby hippo, meet Mackerel! This kid is a total goofball! I've talked here before about the importance of meeting a dog outside of the kennel environment, taking him outside to see his true personality. Mackerel is a great example of why that is so important.
When I first leashed him up to take him outside, he was very hesitant and seemed pretty fearful. I didn't have any trouble leashing him, but he was hesitant to walk down the inside hallway to get to the play yard. Sarah and I had to stop several times to pet him and encourage him, talking sweetly to him the whole way. He also was scared walking by the other kennels that we had to pass by to finally make it out to the big play yard. But, man, oh man, once we got him out there? Totally different dog! He ran a couple laps around the yard with the biggest smile on his big ole face. He'd stop every now and then and just roll around. Once we started tossing the ball, he thought that was the COOLEST ... THING ... EVER!!!! A BALL!!! I LOVE A BALL!!! He'd run so fast after it that he'd end up tripping over both the ball and his own feet before finally grabbing it and running back to us with it. You can see the dirt on his nose and face in this shot. That's from him rolling all over the place. :-)
One of the shelter staff who had done his assessment was watching from outside the fence and asked us who he was with a confused look on her face. When we told her it was Mackerel, she said, "You've got to me kidding me! That's a completely different dog than the Mackerel I assessed. I've got to change my notes!!" We had to completely wear him out before he finally just plopped down and looked at me like he was saying, "Okay, NOW you may take my picture."
Two lessons here and I've shared them both before. First, don't judge a dog by his kennel presentation; think about how you'd feel if you were stuck in a three-foot-by-eight-foot room nearly 24 hours a day, watching the world go by on the other side of your kennel door. And second, don't buy into the bad rap that the media often gives pit mixes. Over these last five years photographing, by large majority, pit mixes at city shelters, I can honestly say that these silly blockheads can be some of the most fun, most lovable, most goofy dogs you'll ever meet. Mackerel is waiting for his forever family at the City of Tallahassee Animal Service Center, 1125 Easterwood Drive.