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Marvelous Mutts is a traveling dog show that features energetic and talented rescue dogs. Dogs of all color, shapes, and sizes leap through the air, run through obstacle courses, and jump into pools to catch toys in their mouths. The group travels across the country to perform at fairs, concerts, and other events. Their mission is to promote pet adoption and show that these dogs have just as much to offer as purebred animals.

The owners of Marvelous Mutts started the traveling show in 2011, and they operate on a ranch in Hudson River Valley, New York. They take in rescues that would have too much energy for an average household and train them on their property.

Co-owner Nadja told Good Morning America, “They need a job to do, so we find out what they do best and train them up; we use their innate drive and desire to please and train them to be amazing athletes and performers that enjoy being in public.”

The dogs perform dock-diving, agility, and frisbee-catching. After each show, the owners talk to the audience about animal rescue and promote adoption.

Currently, they have 18 dogs and train them at the property. They have a relationship with local shelters, so when the shelters get a high-energy dog, the Marvelous Mutts get first dibs. They choose animals that are interested in playing with toys and interacting with humans.

They train the dogs with positive reinforcement like toys and treats, and they are never forced to perform. When the dogs are too old or can’t perform anymore, they still have their forever home at the farm.

“Once we adopt a dog, we are committed to him or her for life, whether or not the dog ends up in the show,” Nadja explained. “We have one dog who has been with us for more than six years and who still hasn’t made it into a show. Some people who have traveling-dog acts treat their dogs like equipment. Our dogs are family members for life.”

Although this show may be one of the good ones, most dog shows are marketed as only showing “the best of the best.” Their restrictions on looks and only purebred dogs promote overbreeding in puppy mills. These shows encourage people to buy purebred dogs because they think that they are “better” than a mixed mutt at the shelter. Marvelous Mutts shows that this isn’t true, and every dog deserves a good home free of forced labor or performances.

For example, in 2015, when a beagle won the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, beagle breeders saw an increase in the demand for purebred beagles. French bulldogs are another dog that has been subjected to overbreeding. Any time there is an increase in the market for a specific breed, puppy mills and troublesome breeders jump at the opportunity to make a quick buck and mass breed these dogs.

Marvelous Mutts seems like a group with good intentions and saves many dogs from shelters, but we can’t forget about groups that don’t take the same precautions or use the same practices. Far too often, animals are exploited for fame or entertainment.

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