Playful Pixel


Written by Brecon Ulrich

Professional photography by Kym Clayton Photography

After a good few years mourning the loss of our 13-year-old cat, we were finally warming up to the thought of growing our family again. We’d just bought our first home, ensured that there was a decent grassy patch for the future fur baby, and had started the laborious task of filtering through picture after picture, website after website, of hopefuls looking for their forever homes.

How could we ever choose one? How could we ever say this little one deserved our love more than that little one? I was overwhelmed, heartbroken, and had reached a point where I was too terrified to even attempt to walk into the shelter for fear of seeing all those helpless eyes staring up at me.

Then it happened.

It was my birthday and I came home from a brunch with a girlfriend to be greeted with dog gadgets and beds, treats and pooper-scoopers. My incredible husband had done what I couldn’t; he’d picked out the most adorable, bat-eared dog from FAW (Fisantekraal Animal Welfare). FAW is an incredible animal welfare whose animals are housed at Uitsig ARC near Melkbos, Western Cape, whose staff have some of the biggest hearts we know!

I walked up to her, all too eager for my first meeting, admittedly, and she nipped me. A shock, to say the least, but that didn’t stop me falling completely in love with her with every passing minute. Patience.

Joining the family

She was covered in fleas, utterly riddled to the point that they were jumping from her onto everything within a ruler distance from her. She was thin and weak from competing with her roommates for food. Despite all of this, my husband told me that this was an exceptionally well-managed, really clean and well-kept shelter that really took great care of their charges. FAW kept in touch and fielded our questions many weeks after the adoption was finalised, ensuring the smooth transition of their child.

To manage fleas on so many animals (over 500) is a huge task on limited resources. They’d offered to give her a special going-away flea dip and bath, but she was just too cute to leave behind, and my husband was desperate to finally bring her home. What a whirlwind adventure!

She snapped on a good few more occasions, was bathed at least a dozen times a week to get rid of the pesky critters that had called her skin home for far too long, and quite literally inhaled food which often made her ill.

A beauty spot

We decided to find out what exactly she was. Her background story (rescued from a squatter camp with her puppies) wasn’t the most informative and still makes me shudder when I think back on it. We decided to use MuttMix.

If we were confused before, we were even more so afterwards! We honestly thought we had a mix of Corgi, Jack Russell and perhaps German Shepherd (with a dash of Springbok for good measure).

The results came back and were resubmitted because we just couldn’t believe them. But they were confirmed: she was part Neapolitan Mastiff, French Bulldog and Staffordshire Bull Terrier. Come again? Apparently even a beauty spot of DNA of the smallest contributor can swing the end product. She’s clearly an example of that beauty spot!

Our whole heart

It’s now been six whole months since we brought her home, and what an adorable little monster she has transformed into! She walks us every afternoon, has full conversations with her dad when he gets home from work, gives the best cuddles during afternoon naps, goes positively “loco” when it’s treat time, taught the family cats how to behave, and still hasn’t lost the ability to stink her dad awake every other night.

She is our whole heart and we would like to thank every warm-hearted soul that brought our Pixel Poof to her forever home. You are truly guardian angels, in a thankless industry. We cannot wait to return to FAW to adopt her future brother or sister!

Pixel’s MuttMix Results:

Level 2                    Black and Tan Coonhound

Level 3                    Staffordshire Bull Terrier

Level 4                    French Bulldog

Level 4                    Neapolitan Mastiff

Level 6                    German Shepherd

Level 6                    Basset Hound

Dominique of MuttMix says…

Occasionally a dog comes along that just doesn’t seem to fit the breeds found in the DNA. When this happens, we dig a bit deeper and often find what we call “background noise” – this is breeds that are less than 2% of the DNA. These breeds should have no impact on the features (think a beauty spot on the sole of your foot!), BUT we’ve found that they can explain the physical features of a mixed-breed dog – and Pixel is a prime example of this! In Pixel’s DNA, we found “noise” of German Shepherd Dog and Basset Hound. These are reported as Level 6 above.