"A breed of satin and steel. Pit bulls are a mixture of softness and strength, an uncanny canine combination of fun, foolishness, and serious business, all wrapped up in love."

-D. Caroline Coile

Friday, May 21, 2010

Pit Bull Doing Its Part to Keep City Clean

You sometimes can't help but attract attention if you're a dog...

"No, she doesn't get ice cream if she does a good job," Anne Vaini tells the three kiddos clustered around her dog, Emma.

But when you're a dog that picks up litter from the sidewalk, runs to the nearest garbage can and drops it in, you're pretty much guaranteed instant fame.

"I just wondered what it was doing,” says Justin Webb, the owner of Midwest Tattoo on Water Street. “I’d just see it walk up and down the street and pick up trash."

"The first reaction is always 'oh my gosh! Did I just see that?' Yeah, you did. She does that and puts it in there by herself," Vaini tells us laughing.

You're best bet to catch Anne and Emma walking Water Street: Friday or Saturday nights when there's more people and more litter.

"When the students came back, I noticed the street was looking really trashy and really dirty,” Anne tells us. “I though 'hey, I have a dog that can pick things up and put it in the trash cans.’ I thought it'd be good training.”
Vaini’s hope: That Emma will one day leave her trash tasks to help someone in a wheelchair.  Emma will eventually be placed with a person in a wheelchair where the skills she has developed with Vaini, such as opening and closing doors and retrieving and depositing, will help her new owner live a more independent life. Until then Emma will be a staple on Water Street, though probably more obedient than most you’ll meet on Saturday night.

"I love it because a lot of people think American pit bull terriers can't be trained and I can show them very quickly, without having to pull their leg or tell them that whole story that 'yeah, it's a dog and it can be trained.'"

And trained well. Emma was a little out of practice after a recent surgery. But, after a couple seconds of prodding she picked right up on her litter picking skills; much to the delight of the Water Street faithful.

"At least somebody is picking up the trash," laughs Webb. “There's a lot of it left here at night. Maybe we can get some more dogs down here picking up the trash."

But, it's not all work for the little litter lady...."Emma is absolutely a love bug. She's always ready to give kisses," Anne says cuddling her pup.
Making Emma one itty bitty pit bull with an extra large heart.

Reporter: Mary Rinzel with Photographer Jeff Ralph

Words by Arya Roerig and photography by Sarah Word

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