A Life-Changing Pit Bull

March 29, 2012  

Bean the therapy dog is helping children learn to read, changing perceptions about pit bulls and changing her family’s life forever

By Kris Lamont

So, if you were to have asked me five years ago: “Could you name something that would change your life?” I may have guessed winning the lottery or having a baby. Adopting a pit bull probably would not have made the list. However, the life-changing event that occurred two years ago was adopting a 5-month-old pit bull from the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society. Who knew … certainly not me.

She was a sweet, stressed puppy that looked like a tiny bean in a big kennel. She looked up with her lovable face needing her forever home. The perfect name for that 5-month-old pit bull puppy was Bean, which we named her on the spot, then filled out the application. We knew she would be coming home with us and loved forever!

One needs to keep a puppy busy with meaningful activities. A working breed needs to keep their mind occupied. Puppy classes for Bean were next on the list! Bean loved playing with the other puppies and interacting with the humans in the group. Within the first few classes, the instructor said, “She would make an excellent therapy dog,” … and so our journey began.

Bean was certified as a therapy dog by Therapy Dog International on Jan. 22, 2011. Wikipedia defines a therapy dog as a dog trained to provide affection and comfort to people. Bean carries out this definition. She has provided calmness to stressed students, smiles to sad faces and bonding between people. Over the past year, Bean has been involved in college visits, parades, children’s programs and fundraising events. She is very good at her job and brings a smile to everyone she meets!

The one skill Bean has not been taught is watching a book while a child is reading. During a session in the summer program, a little girl wanted to read a book to Bean. I said to the little girl, “Bean would love to hear a story.” Her response was, “but I can’t read.” I said to her, “Bean would love to hear about the pictures.” And, as if no one else was in the room, she “read” the book to Bean. Bean didn’t judge her or correct her … and because Bean didn’t know to look at the book, the little girl put the book in Bean’s face each time she told her about the picture on that page. Bean would lean over to the little girl and gently lick her on the cheek. The little girl “read” another one to Bean. That little girl left with a smile on her face and confidence in her step … just because of Bean … because a dog took the time to listen, to acknowledge, to be attentive.

Oh, by the way, the little girl didn’t say anything about Bean being a pit bull. She saw something more in Bean than that square head, solid muscles and scary stories that are told. She saw compassion and understanding, acceptance and kindness, love and kisses.

Bean’s adventures as a therapy dog have just got underway … there’s so much more of the world to see, people to meet and kisses to give. Bean is a better advocate for pit bulls than I could ever be, and we will continue to educate, answer questions and advocate for her and dogs like her! Together we have found our purpose and our passion.

Five years ago I would never have imagined my life as it is now. Bean has changed my life in ways I would have never dreamed. For that I am forever grateful for entering that shelter on that day and seeing those sweet, beautiful eyes looking back at me.

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7 Responses to “A Life-Changing Pit Bull”
  1. honeyremedy says:

    I can hardly read any of the stories posted on Stubby Dog without tearing up. Every story is beautiful, every dog is beautiful. Bean is very beautiful, with those kind concerned eyes!Thank you for sharing! 

  2. HollyGilkeson says:

    Beautiful story, thanks for sharing!

  3. blazer says:

    LOVE this story!

  4. chirsch4 says:

    Such a wonderful story. I LOVE to hear things like this. Bean you are one special girl.