How old are you?
I am a 4 year olds.
What breed are you exactly?
I am an American Pit Bull Terrier
What certifications do you have?
I am a Certified Therapy Dog with Love on a Leash in central Kentucky, as well as a certified Canine Good Citizen.
Do you have any fursiblings?
Yes, I have 2 brothers (Skeeter, a Beagle/Cattle dog mix and Baron, a Miniature Schnauzer), and 1 sister (Sasha, a German Shepherd)
How did you come to live with you mom?
Late in 2009 when I was brought into the clinic that my mommy was working at (she’s a vet tech/assistant) with parvo. My old family said to treat me, and when I got better, they never came and got me, they just left me there! My new mommy and daddy had fallen in love with me so they decided to adopt me! They got to bring me home on Christmas Eve! It was the best Christmas ever! I got a new home and 3 siblings all at once and I was soo excited!
Everything was going well until that next August when one morning, my mommy went to get me for our morning potty break, and she opened the door to my crate and I couldn’t walk! She rushed me to work, and I had some tests done, but they couldn’t quite figure out what was wrong, and I heard the nice doctor telling my mom and dad that I should see a specialist right away! So off we rushed to a special hospital a few hours away, where they said the nice people would make me feel better.
There they discovered that my brain was swollen and I had a super high number of white blood cells in my spinal fluid! They call it Encephalitis, and they said that I was one of the worst cases they had seen. They couldn’t figure out why I got it, but that I needed to start treatment right away. I was there for 4 days before I got to go home! They sent my mom and dad home with a sling so they could help me stand to go potty since I still couldn’t hold myself up on the front end.
I had lots of medicine, injections and physical therapy that I had to get, and thankfully mommy had experience with how to do everything or I woulda been there longer! Since the medicine that I was on suppressed my immune system, I wasn’t allowed to leave the house except for doctor visits, and wasn’t allowed to have any friends over. That, however, didn’t stop me from having to go to school though! My mommy still made me practice my manners.
After a very long time and lots of recheck and blood tests later, I was finally able to start living a somewhat normal life and rejoin the social world. I was so excited to see all the different peoples again!! Through all of my illness, I never stopped wagging my tail and managed to smile everyday. Nothing really ever got me down! My momma decided since I loved life and people SO MUCH and I had made it through SO MUCH, that she wanted to make me a Certified Therapy Dog so that I could spread some joy around to others who need it, and also show people that even though you may be different, different is NOT a bad thing! You see, even though I am healthy now, my illness left me with nerve damage on my right front leg and it doesn’t work or look right anymore. I can still use it some, it does help me balance at times, and it doesn’t stop me or slow me down one bit!
No matter what challenges you face, or how bad things may seem at the moment, you should always keep smiling, keep your head up and be proud to be what/who you are no matter what others think.
How long did it take for you to pass you CGC test and was it hard?
Not at all! My momma is a trainer, so she had worked hard all my life to make sure I had manners. I actually got my Therapy Dog Certification before my CGC test…it wasnt a requirement to have it prior to evaluating, so I got it afterwards. My biggest challenge was once I got sick, I had to basically be kept in a bubble. I wasnt able to be outside of the house at all, other than my check ups, because my immune system was so weak. Before I could take my CGC I had to learn that the world wasnt a scary place. I had to be re-introduced to all different sights, sounds, smells ect. I came off all my medications in January of last year and took my Therapy Dog evaluation in February, then got through my required hours and officially became a Certified Therapy Dog in July of 2012 (it took them 2 months to finish my paperwork and send me my badges!) I took and passed my CGC test in September of 2012
What do you like most about being a therapy dog?
I love being able to visit children! Libraries are awesome to visit! I love to sit and listen to them read! We visit a local Childrens home and I love it when they give me hugs! Its one of my favorite places to go! We also do educational lessons to teach children the proper ways to meet a strange dog, inform them of what do around loose dogs, and educate them on safety around pets they have in thier own home, and soo much more!
Have people changed their minds about pit bulls after meeting you?
I have changed a few! There has been some kids that have said “My Mom/Dad says Pit Bulls are mean but youre not mean at all!” Some will as if I bite because they have heard Pit Bulls are mean- But we always show them that that isnt the case. My wagging tail and kisses always prove otherwise! We have had some adults not want to pet me, but thats ok- we still show them that we are super friendly. We have won a few people over, but some just arent dog people in general and thats ok! We still sit an chat with them because its not just me that we are changing their minds about– its about Pit Bull owners as well!
We feel that if we educate and show children how we really are, they will grow up thinking differently about my breed and help others realize that as well by speaking of their positive experience with me
What has been your most memorable experience being a therapy dog?
There was one time at the library when a mom came in with her daughter and her son. Her daugter came right in and sat down with another dog and her son hung back a bit and momma could hear him telling his mom that he didnt want to read…he just wanted to take his book home. His mom told him he needed to pick a dog and sit down and read. He looked around a bit, then came over and sat with me and momma. He started asking all sorts of questions about me and we could tell he was avoiding his book. So momma asked him what book he had to read to us, and he put his head down. He said the name of the book but then said he had trouble reading so he doesnt like to read aloud, becuase it takes him a while to read the words. As soon as he said that, I put my head on his lap and momma told him that that was ok, because Im a good listener and like to make sure I hear all the words! He put his hand on my back and started reading to me. As he read, he became a little more relaxed and seemed to enjoy reading to me. When he was done with his story he looked at me and whispered ‘Thank you for being the best listener Ive ever had!’
He came back the next two weeks and sat right down and read to me. His mom thanked us and said he talks about me all the time, and really enjoys his reading sessions with me
Anything else you would like to share?
I think that about sums me up! I just enjoy life and never stop waggin my tail! Its one thing people always comment on..it just goes and goes
Author’s Note: Many thanks to Raegan and her mom for letting me do the interview. Pictures were used with permission. You can find Raegan on her facebook page Raegan the Therapy Pit.
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