As told by Chad’s mom, Chrissy
“It was the week before Thanksgiving 2012 when my daughter excitedly called me to tell me about Brewsky, a beautiful brindle puppy she found at the Delaware County SPCA (now the Providence Animal Center) while she was home from college. This little guy and his siblings were being sold out of box on a street corner in Chester for drug money. Fortunately, a concerned passerby saw this happening and ran over and offered every penny she had in her pocket to save the whole litter—luckily they wound up safely in the right hands. At only 6 weeks old, these little babies all needed to be cleaned, vetted, and fostered before they could find their forever homes. Brewsky had instantly stolen my daughter’s heart, so we took him home and renamed him Chad.
It quickly became clear that Chad had so much to give and share. Knowing how important socialization and training is for puppies, especially the bully breeds, we enrolled him in some basic classes at PetSmart. Chad passed with flying colors, and I just had a sense that he could handle a lot more, so Chad and I enrolled in advanced classes. The trainer quickly saw his potential and asked if I was interested in working with Chad to become a therapy dog team. At the time I knew nothing about it, but I decided to research it and look at Chad a bit differently. I knew it would be hard work but was willing to put all my extra time and effort into making it successful.
Contrary to the prevailing wisdom, not every dog can pass the Canine Good Citizen training and testing or even become a therapy dog. The training isn’t just about the dog; it’s about how hard the owner AND dog are willing to work together to be great examples of responsible dog ownership.
Chad and I faced a lot of testing, and we knew we couldn’t fail one single part, yet that is exactly what happened on our first try. The trainers and the evaluator knew that Chad had it in him and I was the one who needed the work. I knew Chad was meant to be a therapy dog, but I still felt defeated. Nonetheless, I went back to work—with Chad but especially on myself as well—and I was determined to keep going until I succeeded. By the time Chad had taken his test twice, this once playful and goofy puppy had learned the difference between play time and work time, and I had learned how to make that happen.
Chad was certified as a Canine Good Citizen and a therapy dog in April of 2014. Our journey of working as a therapy team began in nursing homes and assisted living facilities, where the presence of a dog has been shown to help reduce stress and depression, and even aid in helping serious conditions like Alzheimer’s disease anddementia. Chad took to the work immediately!
The success we had with the elderly inspired us to keep searching for new ways to help others in need. I noticed from puppyhood that Chad’s interaction with children was very instinctual. His immediate reaction was to lick the hands, feet, and faces of any little kids he met. As we became known in the community, I was approached by the program coordinator of the pet therapy program at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. They were very insistent that Chad, because of his love for children, would make a great addition to their therapy dog program. After going through interviewing and screening, Chad was medically and behaviorally screened through the Mathew J. Ryan Veterinary Hospital at the University of Pennsylvania. Then there were background checks, FBI fingerprinting, child abuse clearances, health clearances, orientation, and further training to be in a hospital setting. Finally in November of 2014, Chad was accepted as the first pit bull in the pet therapy program at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia!
In 2015, Chad was nominated for the AKC Humane Fund Award for Canine Excellence in recognition for his services to mankind as a therapy dog. And In 2016, Chad was honored with the Ginger Award from his alma mater, the Delaware County SPCA. This award is given to an exemplary pit bull who serves as a breed ambassador in their community.
Chad and I regularly visit schools, colleges, hospitals, nursing homes, bullying meetings, and the Domestic Abuse Project of Delaware County to bring his love and comfort to anyone in need. We also attend local events that educate communities about the stigma that is placed unfairly on dogs like Chad because of their breed or their appearance. Lately, we have been donating food to local shelters, rescues, and families in need. We also use Chad’s Facebook page to share the stories of our beautiful pittie friends to help them find their forever homes more quickly.
Chad has inspired me, my family, and so many in our community who need love, support, education, a friend. It’s funny how you can tell when a dog has so much to give—it makes you want to share him with the whole world, as many people as you can. After his rescue, Chad has never stopped giving back. A dog’s heart is never in debt—it’s always overflowing. It’s just in his heart to help.”
Author: Melissa Mazzeo
Melissa is the Managing Editor at Big Barker. She is best friend to Phoebe (pictured) and Finian, both rescued Chihuahua mixes.