Ruby joined my family September 6, 2002 at about ten months old. She is an American Bulldog / American Pit Bull Terrier mix.
We have spent a lot of time working to counter the lies spread by the media about 'pit bulls'. (Learn about what is and is not a Pit Bull.) We often are asked questions about her breed, how she is with children, other dogs and of course common Pit Bull myths.
Though I have done the majority of Ruby's training myself, we did complete three eight week agility classes with the Dog Obedience Training Club Of Rochester New York (DOTCORNY), a local training club. Ruby excelled at agility, though I did find it challenging to keep her attention focused on the agility courses. Once she had run a particular course two (sometimes three) times she was more interested in running laps around the training facility than listening to me!
Ruby began doing unofficial therapy work soon after I got her. My grandfather was living in a nursing home and they only required proof of vaccinations for her to be allowed in the building. The first visit or two she was wary of all of the new smells and sights of nursing home life. After that she was an old pro. She got plenty of attention from the residents, as most people of my grandfather's generation think of the Pit Bull as a family dog or farm dog.
In the spring of 2004, we took the CGC/TDI class at DOTCORNY with my boyfriend and his dog Connor. Ruby earned her therapy dog certification from Therapy Dogs International. Therapy dogs certified through TDI are easily spotted by their red collars and leashes and blue and yellow tags. Since that time we have done a good deal of therapy work both on our own and with other groups.
We have had a number of memorable therapy visits over the past year, in spring 2004, we went to my niece Kathleen's second grade class. We talked about dog safety, the proper ways to approach a new dog and how to act around dogs. Even after all of that, the most exciting part of the visit for the kids was Ruby jumping about 4 1/2 feet onto the stage in the gym. They were VERY impressed with this feat and asked to see it over and over.
In November, 2004, we visited two pre-Kindergarden classes. Ruby met 46 three and four year olds in about an hour and a half. Like the second graders, they thought Ruby's 'trick' of jumping on tables was just great. Our only 'challenge' on that visit was the guinea pigs in each class. After about five minutes of trying to distract her I gave up and asked the teachers to remove the cage... she just wanted to 'play' with it!!
In December, 2004 we participated in 'Fantasy Flight', an event held for local children. Some of the kids got to ride in an airplane, there were crafts, the County Executive read The Christmas Story, a local cheerleading team performed, and Santa arrived by helecopter! There were eight therapy dog teams in attendance.