Happiness is... Holly Bean

2nd Feb, 2023

Written by Lee Schmidt

Professional photography by @Strike a Pose Photo / Video

The ugliest little white puppy came into my life on the 23rd of December 2021. She was underweight, riddled with ticks and fleas, and terrified of everything. I just had to give her a home… even though I hadn’t planned on getting a dog.

I also had no idea what I was doing – I hadn’t had a dog in years!

The first thing I did was wash her to get rid of the dirt and the ticks and fleas. I thought she’d scoff the food I offered her, but she gingerly ate it, and never a full bowl at a time. The next order of business was getting her to the vet. My brilliant vet saved her that day when they did a blood smear; Holly had biliary. But we caught it so early that she didn’t run a temperature or show any other symptoms. I could’ve kissed my vet that day.

Over the next few weeks she started to shed her scruffy fur, she picked up weight, and we started going for walks. I enrolled her in puppy school. And everywhere I went with Holly I’d be asked, “What is she?” I told people she was an Alaskan Blizzard Hound, first of her breed. But I was curious. Definitely Labrador, I thought, and some kind of Collie. Her colouring is also so unique. Maybe Perfect x Angel?

Holly was the easiest puppy ever. Besides a few stuffed animals, she never destroyed a thing. She pretty much house-trained herself. My “no dogs on the bed” rule flew out the window after three months. I lost a lot of weight because she’d get me out for walkies every day. I’ve met the most wonderful people at the park and in the neighbourhood whom I’d never have encountered had it not been for Holly. We started general obedience and train in a group, as well as with a private trainer/behaviouralist. And this year we’re going to do Canine Good Citizen.

But I still needed to know what she was. So I ordered my MuttMix kit and sent it off for analysis.

For a bit of fun, I started a fundraising effort called “What’s Holly”. The idea was that for R100, you could guess up to four breeds. Whoever got the most correct could nominate a doggy charity of their choice and all the proceeds would go to them.

The overall thinking was that Holly was a mix of Labrador, Retriever, Border Collie, and Jack Russell. There were also a few German Shepherd responses. My thoughts were Border Collie (because of how she “stalks” me where we play Pine Cone), Labrador (because she looked so much like one when she was a baby), and Husky (because she makes the strangest noises). I didn’t get a single one right!

Holly’s MuttMix Results:

       Level 3        Vizsla

       Level 3        Bull Mastiff

       Level 3        Pekingese

       Level 4        Irish Setter

Now things made so much more sense! Vizslas are known to be “Velcro dogs” and are very sensitive in nature. This is Holly to a T. She’s very attached to her mom and sulks as soon as I leave the house. The Bull Mastiff makes sense because she’s very protective of me. Now that I know, I can see it in the shape of her skull and her droopy lips. Pekingese are notorious for being picky eaters, and it’s a challenge getting Holly to eat properly. The Irish Setter explains her coat, which is quite thick.

No one who participated in “What’s Holly” got more than two right. But we raised R2,000 and the winner nominated Woodrock Animal Rescue as the beneficiary.

In the end, it really doesn’t matter what Holly is. Knowing does explain a lot. Regardless, she’s my best friend. And I know I am her entire universe. We’re a team and a family. She’s brought so much joy into my life, I’m kicking myself for not getting a dog sooner. But it wouldn’t have been this dog, and I believe we’re meant to be. It’s been over a year with her now and I can’t imagine a life without her.

I love you, Holly Bean!

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