Onyx is a beautiful black Pit Bull as you can see in the photos. She has a pleasant nature and was very eager to learn in response to treats. After several weeks of being passed over by adopters, Even posting her on the blog did not bring an adopter for Onyx. Caring Hands Humane Society decided to make her a permanent resident.
“Onyx was well mannered and very obedient,” said Lori Smith, kennel manager. “Making her a therapy dog was something I could easily see in her future.”
Through the summer, Onyx has been attending obedience classes, with several Caring Hands staff participating so she would get used to responding to commands given by different voices. She excelled in her class and showed that she would be ready for therapy dog training which began this month. She has been doing well in her classes and has even had the opportunity to visit with a group of school children and a group of seniors in the Newton community. All therapy dogs have to be insured and Onyx and Smith, who is her primary handler, are both covered under Caring Hands’ insurance.
“There are several other rules for a therapy dog that make tons of sense that we have learned along the travels of Onyx’s and I’s journey,” said Smith. “For instance, certifying a therapy dog certifies the team. It means that the handler and the dog are the ones that are certified. Originally, it was in my head that when you certify a dog as a therapy dog that anyone could take her places. That just isn’t the case! This means that even my husband can’t take her once she is certified. Even though he’s been with me to class and works with her just the same. He isn’t certified as a team with her.”
While Onyx has been doing very well throughout her training, she has reached a point in the therapy dog training that she could use a little help. With all the attention being paid to her and a lot of new information coming in a short timeframe, Onyx is developing some shyness. Smith encourages people to come by the shelter to interact with Onyx to help her over this hump in her training. Once you meet Onyx, you will see why so much potential to be a comfort to others was seen in her from the beginning.
“Giving the American Pit Bull Terrier a good name in our community weighed on all of our minds as we considered adopting Onyx,” Smith noted. “Seeing so many of this breed come and go through our doors, knowing the wonderful qualities of the breed, and wishing we could find more of them good stable homes is always our hope.”
The Staffordshire Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier and Pit Bull are the same breed for all practical purposes. The differences are in size and to a lesser degree appearance. “Spuds MacKenzie” and “Bullseye” (the Target mascot) are Bull Terriers. The Bull Terrier personality is very similar to the other three, with the addition of being known for a clownish sense of humor. Unfortunately, this breed has gone from beloved family dog (Petey in Little Rascals), to a breed to be feared because of it also being a breed of choice for dog fighting, which gained a great deal of attention with the Michael Vic case. Dog fighting is not illegal in all states and thus continues despite the brutality of the sport and what it does to dogs that would otherwise raised differently, be good pets. Originally the Staffordshire Terrier was known at the “nanny dog” because of its love for children.
Obedience training is the key for a happy relationship with any of the bull terrier breeds, or for any breed of dog for that matter. They are eager to please, but can be a bit stubborn, bull headed if you will. Socialization is also a must because though they bond well with and love their human companions, they can be aggressive with other animals, so these breeds may take more socialization than others. Time with the bull terrier breeds is well rewarded with a companion who will welcome you home every day.
Onyx took her certification test on Friday, September 17. All who have worked with her were hopeful that she would gain her certification and become a “breed ambassador” to dispell the negative reputation that has developed around the dog that was once known for being a trusted family companion. We will check in with Onyx from time to time to report on her travels as a therapy dog.
Rescues and shelters throughout the area have a number of Pit Bull and Staffordshire Terriers for adoption. For more information about Caring Hands Humane Society in Newton, call 316-283-0839 or contact Smith at [email protected]