Buddy the Therapy Pit Bull

April 10, 2012  

A pediatric nurse begins therapy dog work with her rescued pit bull

By Barbara Telesmanic

As a pediatric nurse at a children’s hospital, I am often met with challenges one might expect when working with chronically and terminally ill children. They pale in comparison to the countless rewards; one such reward is our pet therapy program. On a daily basis our hospital is graced with an array of dogs that brings smiles, cheers and laughter to our patients and families. The kids love to hug, pet and cuddle these sweet, furry volunteers. The dogs provide distraction from the medicines, painful procedures and the other constant reminders that these children are sick.

The dogs provide amazing therapy to the patients, but they also provide comfort and daily therapy to the staff. Every pet therapy dog and handler recognizes me, the “crazy dog lady,” aka the charge nurse. They never miss a chance to stop by my office and grab a delicious treat for a job well done! I get to enjoy sweet, gentle kisses from Lily the Great Dane, usually donned in sunglasses or a tutu, as well as Nellie, the Chihuahua mix with her little dresses and bedazzled harness; or Shay the Schnauzer who gazes up at me with his fluffy little eyebrows. Regardless of how stressful or heartbreaking the day might be, I always make time to get some personal therapy and love from these special volunteers.

Working alongside these amazing therapy dogs has inspired me to take this leap with my own dog, Buddy. We obtained Buddy’s Canine Good Citizen (CGC) certification this year, which was a big step towards the road to therapy dog-dom! Buddy was the only pit bull tested with a pack of Labradors, and he did his kind proud. He thanked the evaluator that day by giving her kisses as she filled out his paperwork.

Buddy (originally named Sniper) was pulled by Molly’s Mutts & Meows, my favorite rescue (based out of Los Angeles, Calif.), from a Baldwin Park high-kill shelter with only a 48 – 72 hour life expectancy. Unfortunately like a lot of dogs, Buddy was an owner surrender. The couple who dropped him off was asked to take this well behaved dog to a more suitable shelter where he would have a better chance of actually being adopted. The man answered, “We don’t want this dog anymore – just take him!” The following day, the woman returned to the shelter, covered in bruises and crying “I can’t take him, but please don’t kill my dog!” Twice Buddy was pulled from the euthanasia room by volunteers who said, “He is just too friendly!” One kind shelter worker finally called Molly, and she high-tailed it down there to pull Buddy for good.

After rescuing our first pit bull Bella from Molly, we knew we would eventually get a second from her someday. We were soon ready for number two, and Molly told us about Buddy, who the rescue had re-named Guinness because he was rescued right before St. Patrick’s Day. When we brought Bella to meet her potential new brother, he had a cracked femur, displaced from his hip socket, and a broken canine tooth down to the root. You would never know this dog was in pain because of his tremendously sunny disposition, except for an occasional wince if you caressed his jaw.

Regardless, he frolicked and played with his new sister, and we knew he was the one. The rescue paid $3,000 for Buddy’s orthopedic surgery; we handled his broken tooth. Once Buddy was out of pain, his friskiness became even more evident, and his personality flourished. Buddy had all the attributes of a model pet therapy dog.

The first Saturday in February of this year, approximately two years after we adopted him, Buddy was prepared to take his therapy dog test with the Delta Society, (now Pet Partners) looking adorable and ready to shine. Upon arrival to the testing facility, Buddy greeted the first evaluator outside with smooches and a rub to her leg. We patiently waited our turn as another test was already in progress. At the start of the exam, it was apparent that Buddy was born to fill this role. The testing is somewhat chaotic because they want to see the dog’s reactions in unpredictable situations. In true bully style, he did every exercise with a smile on his face and a wiggle in his butt! He passed with flying colors, achieving the highest rank: “Qualified to visit in complex environments.” His score sheet comments were loaded with: “tail wagging,” “nice job” and “loves hugs.” The three evaluators along with the neutral dog, Elvis, were as impressed with Buddy as my husband and I.

Now we have started on our road to visiting hospitals, participating in the Special Olympics, and working in an outreach program teaching at-risk kids about the human animal bond! The little unwanted pit bull, dumped at a high-kill shelter, is now a Canine Good Citizen, certified therapy dog and making a difference in the lives of so many! He is a true ambassador for pit bull type dogs, embodies the genuine pit bull spirit and is the absolute love of our lives.

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5 Responses to “Buddy the Therapy Pit Bull”
  1. WONDERFUL story and gorgeous

  2. effcla says:

    So glad Buddy found a wonderful new home but my heart breaks for the poor lady who was forced to give up her dog. I hope she found help for herself to get out of the horrible situation she appeared to be in.

  3. blazer says:

    GO Buddy!  What a wonderful story — so happy for everyone!

  4. Great article…It’s true Dogs are loved by the Kids and after seeing the small puppy the smile automatically comes in the Kids. Thus making Kids happy from inside is the first step to be treated and easily cured by the disease.