"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

Monday, December 5, 2011

Tripp's Trip

Tripp goes from being a cruelty victim in a Chicago gang house
 to the cherished pet in a Long Island home.

James Dunleavy recently lost his 14-year-old dog Toby. A retired banker, James lives alone in the house he shared with his late wife in New Hyde Park, New York. Toby kept James in good company, and so it was hard to say goodbye to the dog.

After Toby was gone, James decided he wanted another dog to help fill the void in the house.

“I wasn’t looking for any particular breed or size or anything,” he says.

So when John Cocchiola, owner of the venerable Long Island restaurant Stango’s and a friend of James, suggested he check out the dogs available for adoption at Animal Farm Foundation (AFF) in Bangall, New York, James thought, “Why not?” John is, after all, a volunteer there. And as a member of the Northeast Staffordshire Bull Terrier Club, he knows his dogs.

So James and his son, Jim, drove up to AFF and met some of the dogs. It didn’t take long for James to decide on a pit-bull terrier mix named Tripp. After a home inspection, the adoption was finalized, thereby completing Tripp’s long journey from being a victim of cruelty in a gang house in Chicago to a cherished companion in his new home on Long Island, where he is now lavished with affection.

Tripp came to Animal Farm Foundation from Chicago Animal Care Control (ACC). There, he was in the Court Case Dog program. Spearheaded by Best Friends and Safe Humane Chicago in conjunction with D.A.W.G. and ACC, the Court Case Dog program involves assessing, training and enriching the lives of dogs who have wound up in ACC as evidence in their abusers’ court cases. The program eventually adopts the dogs or places them with local foster-based rescues.

Tripp was one of two Chicago dogs who came to AFF after AFF staffers Bernice Clifford and Kim Wolf-Stringer paid a visit to ACC to learn about the Court Case Dog program. AFF training coordinator Bernice and community engagement specialist Kim both thought Tripp had the potential to become a participant in AFF’s service dog program. Tripp, however, lacked the confidence he needed to become a service dog. AFF, therefore, made him available for adoption. Bernice and Kim didn’t think it would take long for Tripp to get adopted. They were right.

“They showed me two or three dogs, and I told them it was my choice to take Tripp,” James says. Tripp’s calm demeanor was one of the reasons he decided to adopt the dog. “He’s a very mellow, very friendly dog.”

After adopting Tripp, James and Jim decided that it was only right that they take Tripp by Spango’s for a visit so John could meet the dog. James, Jim and Tripp ended up staying for dinner.

“Tripp just lied down under the table and snoozed,” James says.

James hasn’t seen Tripp get overly excited about anything since Tripp came to live with him, not even the wheelchair Jim uses. He treated the chair as if it were as commonplace as a piece of grass. There is, however, the lawnmower. For some reason, Tripp has decided the lawnmower is his mortal enemy, as James and Jim found out one day when James brought the machine out of the garage.

For however laid-back Tripp usually is, James says he’s constantly attentive to what’s happening around the house. “He is very sharp,” James says. “Nothing passes by him that he doesn’t pick up on.” And that provides James with comfort.

Considering where Tripp has been, that feeling of comfort would certainly have to be a mutual one for Tripp.

Learn more about Animal Farm Foundation and the Court Case Dog program.

By Ted Brewer, Best Friends staff writer
Photos courtesy of James Dunleavy

1 comment:

  1. Great story with a happy ending. It looks like they are both very happy.