And The Cover Dog Winner Is! Lord Mojo Filthwad Von Sheddington II aka “Mojo”

Story by Emily Dieckman
Big ones, small ones, some the size of your head. Some in sunglasses, hats, Halloween costumes, or halfway through eating a cup of whipped cream. Competition was fierce for the 2021 Tucson Dog Holiday Cover Dog Contest, in which readers submitted photos of their furry best friends. In the end, it was Lord Mojo Filthwad Von Sheddington II – or just Mojo, for short – who came out on top.

“He has celebrated by taking four to five naps a day,” says Mojo’s mother, Mel Blumenthal.

Blumenthal and her partner, Alex Byron, got Mojo from Pima Animal Care Center in fall 2020. Blumenthal, who grew up in Tucson, was raised in a family that had pugs, so she was used to having dogs around. Byron, who grew up in Germany, hadn’t grown up with pets but had always wanted one. When he moved to Tucson, he started volunteering to walk and socialize dogs at PACC.

When they decided to get a dog, they had different approaches. Byron created a spreadsheet with must-have categories, such as “already housebroken” and “adult,” and with preferred categories, such as “crate-trained.” He also prioritized dogs with descriptions written about them, so they would know more about a potential pet’s temperament before adoption. Blumenthal placed much more importance on “the cuteness factor” than Byron did.

“We narrowed it down to about five or six dogs based on the spreadsheet,” Blumenthal says. “Mojo, who went by a different name at that time, was definitely the prettiest. He’s a very handsome puppers.”

The other “top dogs” all got eliminated for one reason or another, and the pair came to pick up Mojo. He’d been at PACC for more than two months and was struggling in the shelter, barking at everyone who walked by. But the couple saw how calm and sweet Mojo was as soon as they brought him into the outdoor greeting area.

“He’s an awesome dog, and we have so much fun with him,” Byron says. “It’s been a really long process to learn about him and see him improve and get better over time. But it’s been really rewarding.”

Blumenthal agrees that watching Mojo come out of his shell, and “settle more into his true dogness” has been wonderful. As Mojo’s personality has started to shine through more, his owners have only grown to love him more. Mojo loves playing with other dogs at the dog park, carrying his toys up to his owners when he wants to play, and meeting new people. When his owners cook, he watches them, eagle-eyed and ears perked, from the kitchen floor, standing by in case they drop any food.

Blumenthal and Byron don’t stop at treating their dog like royalty: They made him literal royalty. They purchased him a Lordship over the Principality of Sealand, a tiny sovereign nation established in 1967 off the coast of Britain. (Really, it’s just a .0015 square mile platform used as a sea fort during World War II, but an eccentric British man laid claim to it, and his descendants now sell Lords and Ladyships. You can buy one for yourself! You can buy one for your dog!) When Blumenthal and Byron heard about it, they thought it was hilarious, and they also thought they absolutely needed to make their dog a Lord.

“Best $75 we ever spent,” Blumenthal says.

Luckily, Byron says that (Lord) Mojo’s royal title doesn’t seem to have gone to his head, yet. Neither has his newest public recognition of the winner of The Tucson Dog Cover Dog Contest. In some ways, Mojo is already used to being in the public eye. When Blumenthal and Byron first brought Mojo home, they joked about how he would earn his keep. Both Blumenthal, who works in finance, and Byron, who owns a home inspection company, have turned Mojo into something of a mascot for their work. Blumenthal created a personal persona called “Mojo the Money Mutt,” as a fun way to offer financial tips on social media.

“Most people would rather chew glass than think about taxes,” she says. “What we’re doing here is using Mojo to kind of make these subjects more palatable. Instead of going, ‘Oh no! I don’t want to talk about it,’ people go ‘Oh, how cute!’”

The Facebook page for Desert Diamond Home Inspections, the company Byron owns, is filled with memes of Mojo the dog, known in those parts as Mojo the Home Pro. In one, he’s reminding people to change the filters on their air conditioning units. In others, he’s inspecting a fire extinguisher, or making sure a home’s main water shut-off switch works.
Byron even wrote a book about home maintenance earlier this year, and Mojo is listed as co-author. A friend of his designed cartoon versions of him and Mojo, and Mojo’s character appears throughout the book, offering funny quips and words of advice.

“I’ve gone to inspections where the first thing people say is not, ‘How are you?’ and not ‘Good morning.’ It’s, ‘Where’s Mojo?’” Byron says.

Lucky for us at The Tucson dog, this month, Mojo’s right here on our cover.



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