This past Saturday, I had the honor and the pleasure of spending a couple of hours with a most extraordinary dog, Jeffrey the Positively Peaceful Pit Bull and his human, Michele. As described by Michele, “Jeffrey is a Registered Therapy Dog and Shelter Dog Goodwill Ambassador, shattering stereotypes and opening minds...one belly rub at a time!”
Jeffrey is not only a local celebrity but he also has his own Facebook page with over twelve thousand followers from all over the world.
It is no secret that I have an enormous respect and appreciation for shelter volunteers everywhere. These individuals give of themselves and their time often knowing that the dogs they are walking and playing with today might be gone tomorrow. Visits from these volunteers are often the only bright spots in the days of shelter dogs who spend hours on end in cages with little stimulation or human contact. Shelters, particularly in large cities, are hopelessly understaffed and overcrowded and without the volunteers, these dogs really would have no one. So, once again, I would like to take this opportunity to thank those who volunteer in shelters. You are all heroes in my eyes.
As for Jeffrey, he is one of the lucky ones. He made it out alive and he is certainly making the most of his second chance thanks to his devoted owner Michele. Michele has spent countless hours working on his training and now devotes many more hours to visiting schools, libraries and hospitals with Jeffrey. Michele proudly told me a story about a visit to a group of hospital nursing students at which one of the students from a foreign country petted a dog (Jeffrey) for the first time. As hard as it is for us to imagine, in her native country dogs are not considered pets.
Jeffrey is an American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizen, a Delta Pet Partners Registered Therapy Dog and a Registered Reading Education Assistance Dog (R.E.A.D.) helping children with reading and communication skills.
As if that was not enough, Jeffrey is also the official spokesdog for the Connecticut Pit Bull Project and recently welcomed all who attended Connecticut Pit Bull Awareness Day last month.
This past weekend, Jeffrey and Michele surprised me by stopping by for my book signing at Ruff Cutz, LLC in Fairfield, CT. Heather, the shop’s owner requested that a portion of proceeds be donated to the Connecticut Pit Bull Project and of course I was happy to support such a great cause.
It was a dreary, rainy day but that did not stop Jeffrey from spreading sunshine to everyone who visited the shop that day. He greeted everyone with unbridled joy, with tail wags for all the two-legged and four-legged customers. He was rewarded with lots of hugs, a little play time and finally, a nice bath. He came bounding out, proudly showing off his new fall bandana.
Again, Jeffrey and Michele, not only was it fun – it was an honor!