Black dogs are considered difficult dogs to find homes for, add pit bull and the challenge increases, unless you’re like “Bubba” who had the right person recognize his potential.
Susan Harrison fell in love with everything about the 3-year-old black pit bull named Bubba at the Flagler Humane Society. Well almost everything. She was willing to make sure he went through his treatment for heartworms, and even housetrain him, but his name -- that had to go.
“Let’s forget that name,” she laughed. “He’s Jasper now.”
I met Jasper and Harrison last week while I was interviewing volunteer Howard Tessler. Tessler watched Harrison and her dog trainer Linda Conrad as they walked Jasper around the shopping center.
“They’re spending a lot of time with Bubba,” Tessler told FHS Director Amy Carotenuto who had stopped by the event. “I think he’s going home.”
With his new name decided, Jasper did indeed go home. Harrison and Conrad had been doing more than just walking him around, Conrad was assessing him to see if he would be a good choice for Harrison to use as a visiting therapy dog.
“Linda had been looking up and down the East Coast for a puppy for me,” Harrison said. “We were on our way to Jacksonville to look at puppies, and to humor me, we stopped at PetCo to see Jasper at the adoption event.”
Jasper’s calm temperament and willingness to be touched impressed the trainer, and the trip to Jacksonville was cancelled.
The dog is undergoing heartworm treatment, which means Harrison has to keep his activity to a minimum while he is in treatment, but he has already won the hearts of Harrison’s neighbors, and joins his new brother Jake, a 10-year-old golden retriever adopted from Halifax Humane Society, on walks.
Harrison’s therapy dogs go through a series of training before she takes them out to interact with others. Not all dogs have the temperament to be therapy dogs. In the past Harrison has taken dogs to a children’s organization, but knowing that nursing homes are always looking for calm therapy dogs to visit their residents, she said Jasper may be able to do both.
“He is a work in progress,” she said. “But we have every confidence that he will find his niche and be successful.”