Hello, I’m Ali — a member of Team MUTTS and a new fur mom to this little bundle of joy! Ziggy was born on June 18, 2021 and adopted on October 8 from the Humane Society of Highlands County in Sebring, Florida (about a two-hour drive south of Orlando, where I live). He's part pittie, part husky, part who-knows-what-else, and 100% adorable.

My husband Zach and I decided to get a puppy after the passing of my dog Jager, who I’d known and cared for all 14 years of his life, since he was two months old and I was just 18. Losing him was devastating, but I'd sensed for some time that we were reaching the end of our journey together, and I knew that I wanted another set of paws in our house after his were gone.

We were also hoping to find a compatible friend for our younger dog Holly, a shy but playful girl who had always looked to Jager for guidance and companionship. It was evident after he passed that she was grieving, too.

Our old friend left us in early August, and I started tentatively browsing Petfinder in September, knowing we would be ready to welcome a new pup into our home sometime later in the fall. (I planned to travel to New England for a family vacation — arranged long before any of this — in October, and I wanted to be back and settled in before making the leap.)

The first time I saw Ziggy, I was in an Airbnb near Newport, Rhode Island, enjoying my morning coffee while scrolling through adoptable animals on my phone. I paused when I came across a photo of a brown and white puppy with two different-colored eyes. I scanned the description and learned that he would be available for adoption on October 7, the day after I returned to Florida. “Hmm,” I thought. “Maybe.”

I tossed my phone onto the bed and went to get ready for the day. I walked a few steps to the bathroom, picked up my toothbrush, stared in the mirror, and turned right back around. Within minutes, I’d contacted the number listed on Ziggy's profile and had a blank adoption application sitting in my email inbox.

I filled out most of the form while on a guided tour around Newport. With the salty ocean breeze blowing in from the open trolley windows, I typed out answers on my phone: 

What other pets do you have? "One 10-year-old kitty named Ava, and one five-year-old Blue Heeler named Holly." Do you have a dedicated veterinarian? "Yes." May we contact them? "Yes." Have you ever had a pet euthanized? "Yes …" Where will your pet spend the day? "I work from home and am available all day for puppy training, potty breaks, treats, and hugs and kisses."

I sent the application that evening, and the next day I received a call from a shelter worker named Alex, who told me the application was approved and that the only thing left to do was send a deposit to "claim" Ziggy as our own.

I texted Zach, who was back at home, and let him know. I asked, "Did you tell Holly?" He responded, "Yes, of course. We're both excited."

I flew home on a Wednesday and on Friday, October 8, Zach loaded up the car with a puppy-sized dog carrier, blankets, and a travel bag for Holly. (We'd asked the folks at the shelter if it was okay to bring her along to the adoption, and they said yes.) The plan was for Zach and Holly to make the trip together; in the meantime, I'd get the house ready between work meetings. As they headed out the door I shouted, "Send lots of pictures!"

At the shelter, Zach learned about Ziggy's story: His mother was a pittie whose "guardian" had attempted to breed a litter of pitskies (a mixture of pit bull and husky), but was not remotely equipped to care for the mother dog or her puppies. Sadly, Ziggy was one of the only pups from the litter who survived, and the person ultimately brought him and his siblings to the shelter after realizing they needed professional care.

Zach also discovered that Ziggy was adored at the shelter. Being sick in the early weeks of his life meant he received lots of close attention and TLC, and his caretakers had grown attached. After Zach signed the adoption papers, they sent Ziggy off to his forever home with a loving, tearful goodbye.

Ziggy acclimated to our family, and revealed his intelligence and gentleness, right away. After a tour and sniff-test of our house, he chose his favorite spots to play and nap: under the dining room table, on a rug next to the record player, and curled up with Holly in her bed.

Although Holly welcomed him politely, it seemed to take her a couple of days to understand that he was here to stay. In less than a week, though, they were romping through the house and wrestling in the backyard like longtime friends.

Ziggy is an observant and fast learner. He enjoys watching TV, and when we go on evening walks, he pauses in front of houses that have decorative lights, tilts his head to the side, and stares until we remind him that there are more sights and smells to explore. He learned how to sit on his first day with us, and since then he has figured out how to shake paws, sit up, and lie down, and he knows how to "boop" a training bell on the door to let us know when he needs to go outside.

I believe he enjoys being a member of our pack. His tail stops wagging only when he's asleep, and it is clear that he looks up to Holly in nearly every way, just as she once did with her first brother.

As anyone who's lost an animal likely understands, it is hard to untangle my “new” feelings for Ziggy with my continued love (is there a word for something deeper than love?) for Jager. My old pal is so much more than a prequel to this new adventure, and Ziggy — who has filled our home with renewed joy — is not defined by his predecessor. Still, their stories are intertwined, and I know it will take more time to ease that tangly feeling in my heart. But if anything can straighten things out, it’s surely more love. 


Ali Datko is the Director of Digital Marketing at MUTTS. You can follow her adventures with Ziggy on Instagram at @zigthepitsky.

Comments (27)

I am so glad you gave this beautiful boy a loving home! His eyes are just like my Hairy’s were. All our babies have been mixes. My current girl is also a dog of unknown origins. Best kind of dogs ever!!! I hope Ziggy settles into life with your girl and lives a long and happy life! Give Holly and Ziggy some loves from Miss Red Velvet and me!!

Susan L Hall

That is one good-looking dog! Love those ears!


What an adorable furbaby! And Holly looks so happy sitting by her new brother. Thank you for sharing your story of continuing love. We only have limited time with our darlings, but they are part of us furever.

Rebecca Torres

Congratulations!!! Ziggy has hit the family jackpot, quite obviously, and is one lucky dude!! Thank you for being open to bringing in another dog after you lost Jager (and I am so very sorry – having experienced this several times in my longer life), and obviously, Holly feels the same way, in terms of gratitude. Shelter pups need us, and we need them as much! Have a blast with this new member of your family. Perhaps Patrick can add, “The Adventures of Holly and Ziggy” as a feature!!

Wendy Roberts

Thank you for adopting a rescue! He is so beautiful! I am a foster mom and have had nearly 140 puppies in the past 10 years. I have loved every one of them and almost adopted a few. I had my own terrier too and she fostered every baby brought into her life. She passed away at 16 last year and it may be time to think about a new family member soon. It is hard. Until then, I keep fostering and have a tiny black lab now, 8 weeks old. Thanks again for adopting and saving a little life.

Jan Brett

Such a beautiful, loving story. As one story ended, another begins. And so the wheel keeps turning.

George A.

Ziggy is adorable and he sounds like a wonderful addition to your family!! No one ever replaces those who we’ve lost but when we make room in our hearts for a new dog or cat the loss grows easier to bear. Rescues are the best! 🐶😺 Thanks for sharing Ziggy with us.

Stacy L.

I have a small adopted dog and we are joined at the heart. I’m of an age where I’ve lost many pets, missed them all and am grateful to noble able to have my dear Ruby, part min-pin and part chihuahua. I very thankful when I hear of a successful rescue. (And, by the way, we call them them pitting pats, a name a sweet little child gave them). Thank you for sharing your story. Jamie O’Toole

Jamie O’Toole

It’s a miracle of the human heart that they can grow and grow and grow to accommodate all the love for all our people and pets – new and old. Congratulations on all the joy you have experienced with both Jager and Ziggy.

Susan Lyon

I love your story! Give Ziggy & Holly a pet from me!

Trudy Bledsoe