"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

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

From Homeless to Hero

Nearly euthanized in the shelter, Rocco now pays it forward as a therapy dog.

                                   By Valerie Wilson (Reprinted from StubbyDog.org)

My American Pit Bull Terrier, Rocco, is a working boy. He is a certified therapy dog with Pets on Wheels of central Maryland.

I got Rocco as a 13-week-old puppy that I found from an urgent post on Facebook. His whole litter was on death row slated for euthanasia just for being pit bulls. A rescue in Virginia pulled them from the shelter, and I adopted the scared puppy from them. He was so nervous at first that he would run from us.

I enrolled him in eight months of classes from puppy classes through therapy dog training, and he came out of his shell and graduated with a certificate as a therapy dog.

Rocco is now 1.5 years old and has been with Pets on Wheels since last fall. He visits nursing homes, colleges, military bases and a library where he works with kids. Every month he goes to the library for the Paws to Read program. The kids read to him and their reading skills get better because they feel more comfortable reading to a dog versus reading in front of their peers at school. I have even had a couple of parents tell me that Rocco has helped their children to overcome their fear of dogs. He is mellow and gentle with them.

Of course Rocco is a great breed spokesman. When people find out that their child is snuggling with a pit bull and they see first hand what a kind, gentle dog he is, it makes a great impression for people, many who have never seen any image of the breed other than the bad portrayal on the local news.

I am certainly proud to have Rocco do this work and to help the community in any way that he can. Rocco is a great example of how a dog that was once in need of help can return the favor and greatly improve the lives of those around him.

See Rocco on Facebook.

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