Read about their happy meeting, 900 miles in the making.

Marni Denenberg

In March of 2013, an adult German Shepherd and her nine puppies were found abandoned in a cardboard box on the side of a road in Georgia. A rescue agency drove the dogs up to Mt. Pleasant Animal Shelter, a non-profit shelter in New Jersey funded 100% by donations. One of the puppies, Melo, was adopted by the Denenberg family on March 2, 2013; another puppy, Jax, was adopted two weeks later by the Kerrs. Now, six years later, the rescue dogs have reunited—only to discover that they’re exactly alike.

Why did both families venture over to the shelter that March? Maddie Denenberg explains that her family was en route to brother Ethan’s middle school basketball championship when they found the listing for a litter of ‘Surprise Puppies’ on petfinder.com. “Melo was the cover photo, and we fell in love with his blue eyes,” Denenberg said. The family of five waited patiently to enter the pen, and they were instantly drawn to Melo, who slept peacefully in the corner.

The Kerr family expressed a similar sentiment. “My daughters both picked him out of the bunch of his brothers and sisters because of he had the sweetest face and the most beautiful eyes,” said mother Lisa Kerr. They had gone to the Mt. Pleasant Animal Shelter on a whim to find that there were puppies available for adoption, and they left the shelter with Jax in tow.

Both families knew about their dogs’ 8 siblings, but they only made contact 6 years later, when a mutual family friend visited the Denenberg family’s house and was startled by Melo’s resemblance to Jax. The friend sent Lisa Kerr a photo of Melo, and Kerr was startled by the resemblance as well. “I immediately asked her to ask Melo’s family how old he was and if he was adopted from the same shelter,” Kerr said. “All of the pieces fit and we realized they are bothers.”

The families planned a meet-up in the Kerrs’ fenced-in backyard, where the brothers ran around and played together. Although the families had exchanged photos of their respective puppies, the in-person playdate was when they truly realized the extent of the dogs’ resemblance.

Jax (left) and Melo (right)
Lisa Kerr / Marni Denenberg

“It was crazy, because Melo has such a distinct appearance—and here’s Jax, who’s almost identical,” mother Marni Denenberg said. The dogs’ mother Rosie was a German Shepherd, but the puppies themselves are mutts. The Denenberg family often speculates at the origins of Melo’s unique build and floppy ears—they believe that he’s a mix of a dachshund, a corgi, a lab, and of course a shepherd. “People always ask me what kind of breed he is, and I say he’s his own breed. We’ve never met another dog like him,” Marni Denenberg commented.

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But the similarities don’t end there. When the families met up in July 2019, they discovered that the dogs shared many of the same odd traits and tendencies. Both dogs insist on sleeping in their owners’ beds at night and are absolutely petrified of flies. The families shared that when Melo or Jax even hear the buzz of a fly, they immediately hide under a bed or in a closet.

“We’ve always guessed that there was a fly in the cardboard box where Melo’s litter was found,” Ethan Denenberg said. Considering that both dogs share this odd fear, perhaps this speculation could be correct.

Coincidentally, the families live only two miles apart, which means that many playdates are in the dogs’ future. Both families say that they plan to meet up again so the brothers can get to know each other.

“They said that if Melo ever needs a place to stay, he can stay with them,” Marni Denenberg said. Maybe a sleepover is in their future?

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