Expect the Unexpected

March 28, 2012  

A family’s prayers are answered in a surprising way as they adopt a future therapy pit bull

Debbie Alfano

My quest for a therapy dog began with a prayer and continued with inspiration from a sermon I had heard that went like this: “Your prayers do get answered, of course, maybe not in the way you had planned!” How many times have we all heard this? But what he said next is why I chose to rescue Kendra. He said, “This week expect the unexpected!”

With that in mind I trotted back to the local shelter and began by walking and talking to about eight other dogs, all the while avoiding Kendra, who my son Peter was dying to see. Having not found the right match in any dog so far, I asked the volunteers there what dog they would recommend for therapy work, and to my shock and surprise, they all said Kendra!

I said, “No way” – a pit bull mix that hates cats? That will never work! They rolled their eyes while proceeding to tell me how sweet she was. I immediately called my trainer and asked, “Can pit bulls be therapy dogs?”

“Of course,” she said, “They are just misunderstood!”

So with Peter pleading and begging, I remembered the saying “expect the unexpected” and, shall we say, the rest is history?! We rescued her eight months to the day she was turned in! I remember thinking, “Wow, she must really be special!”

And so began our family journey. Yes, as a family, we all trained and tested with Kendra to pass the therapy dog training program administered by Love on a Leash.

We then began our field visits with her. Tony and I completed our 10 visits, and Peter is currently half way done.

While completing this training, I also got certified with the Reading Education Assistance Dog program (R.E.A.D.), a one-on-one reading program done with Kendra and children in the library or school setting. Participating kids make enormous strides in reading and communication skills while, along the way, building self-esteem, confidence and social skills. Peter would like his senior project to involve fieldwork in visits, as well as involvement in the R.E.A.D. program at the local elementary school.

It’s ironic that our first visit was to the Wounded Warriors! I was very nervous as to how a pit bull mix would be received. However, the reception was fantastic! All the men had no hesitation meeting Kendra. We met one warrior suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, and we could see his stress level fade as Kendra settled in next to him as he stroked her. We stayed a long time with this one person, and as our first visit ended, we could truly say we knew we made the right decision in being open to the thought of expecting the unexpected in Kendra, our lovable, loyal, hardworking pit bull!

« « Looks Can be Deceiving | A Life-Changing Pit Bull » »


7 Responses to “Expect the Unexpected”
  1. NuriaRodriguez says:

    Wonderful store. Thank you for giving Kendra a chance!

  2. ValerieSherman says:

    I’m glad you changed your mind. The amazing thing about these dogs is their deep desire to please and be with humans.

  3. JonDBui says:

    Thank you for rescuing Kendra . And for training her to be a therapy dog. As you continue to work with our service men and women that suffer from PTSD you will discover like i did with my dogs,that it is a lot easyer for them to relate to dogs then people. i do`t know if its because they see a dog for what it is .A dog or if its how they relate on a primal level. I asked once and was told it was because they feel like they would not be judged by them ,and because dogs would not require them to answer questions or talk about situations they did not feel comfortable with.getting them relaxed enough to talk and smile about the dogs..Is a huge step towards being able to help them.Keep up the good work !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • StubbyDog says:

       @JonDBui It’s probably because of all the reasons you mentioned, dogs are great healers of all kinds of things that ail us.

  4. Erin K says:

    Welcome to the Family!!! So glad you looked past the reputation and saw the dog inside of her! She will be forever grateful, as will the lives you touch, and the people who learn to look past the stereotype based on Kendra’s purely lovable nature. What you’re doing is fantastic, not just for you, and for Kendra, and for your family, and the people you touch, but for the breed as a WHOLE. Thank you for blowing stereotypes out of the water! 

  5. MBMCKNIGHT says:

    Debbie, Tony and Peter,
    Kudos!!  Kendra is such a blessing to everyone that meets her.  I think you should post a picture of Kendra in her “princess” outfit:)  
    Peter…Can’t wait to hear about your Senior Project with Kendra.  Best of Luck.
    Ms. Mary