By Janet McAfee

The large 10-week-old puppies arrived at the Loving All Animals’ shelter in Coachella on March 1, 2023. Their pregnant Mastiff mother wandered onto a property in rural Sky Valley and soon gave birth to the adorable foursome. The property owner desperately sought assistance once the sweet pups were weaned. However, they could not grow up at the LAA shelter given the limited kennel size and the serious shortage of big dog fosters. They were photographed by Vicki Wright and networked on social media and Petfinder.

They were beautiful, sweet, active pups, a happy bonded foursome nicknamed the “rugrats litter” who loved to run with each in the yard and play with their toys. The Mastiff breed is known for being good natured, affectionate, dignified, calm, protective and courageous. The identify of their father remains unknown but they appear to be part Shepherd. It is hard to predict the dogs’ eventual size and weight, but 80 pounds is a valid estimate.

Mixed breed dogs tend to have fewer orthopedic and other medical issues. The dogs were initially treated for the Giardia parasite which could have been passed down from their mother or from drinking contaminated water when they were homeless. They are now very healthy, vaccinated, spayed, neutered, and ready for forever homes.


For a variety of reasons, some unfounded, Coachella Valley residents are hesitant to adopt larger size dogs during this time. A couple of perspective adopters arrived for “meet and greets” from other cities but backed out due to changes in their households. There are many reasons to adopt a large size dog. They have larger brains and are easier to house train and obedience train. They are a great protection and provide security for their families when properly kept indoors. They may need a large yard or other opportunity for exercise outdoors, but they are usually calm and relaxed when indoors with you.

Chucky was the first one to strike the adoption jackpot. Anaheim resident Diana White went on seeking a new dog and saw Chucky’s fabulous photo showing him joyfully running with his ears flopping in the breeze. She explains, “I previously had a pit bull. My boyfriend Jackson Kwitny previously owned a Great Dane so we were united on adopting a big rescue dog. We fell in love with his photo and couldn’t wait to come out to meet him in Coachella.”

The young couple is madly in love with the dog they renamed Gumbo. Diana reports, “We are so in love with Gumbo. He is the best boy imaginable. He is the best dog I’ve ever owned, sweet, calm, evolved, and brilliant. He already knew a lot of commands and was leash trained. He’s super goofy. He sits on the top of the couch and then tries to sit on our heads. Adopting from Loving All Animals was a wonderful experience, we could tell how much they really love dogs. Gumbo is now being trained as a psychological service dog.” He is pictured here relaxing in his new home.

Lil, one of the two females, is now thriving in a foster home with Brad Anderson. Brad tells us, “Lil is an amazing dog, one of the best dogs ever. She loves my big dog, she loves my little dog, she loves my blind dog, and she loves to hang out with me. She is already house trained and knows how to use the doggie door. Lil’s hobby is playing in the water, she is always creating some fun.” Lil now weighs 30 pounds. Brad would be happy to talk to anyone interested in adopting Lil.

Brother Dill and sister Angelica remain at the Loving All Animals shelter. It is expected they will be as successful as Chucky and Lil when placed in private homes. They participate in obedience training at LAA with dog trainer Valerie Masi. Valerie will help new adopters with any training issue to insure a successful match.

If you are looking for a new addition to your family, one of the Mastiff mix “rugrats” might be the perfect match. Lil, Dill, and Angelica promise to bring a lot of joy to their new families. Check out Loving All Animals at, like their Facebook page, and call (760) 834-7000 to meet one of the magnificent Mastiff mix pups.