It’s amazing how one phone call can change so many lives and that is exactly what happened with the Dampman family, Philadelphia and for one little brindle pit bull puppy. Like so many dogs, the little brindle puppy wasn’t born into the greatest of environments, but like millions of others, that little brindle puppy will grow up to be yet another amazing dog that demolishes the negative stereotype of his breed.
Chrissy Dampman was no stranger to the rescue world. Rescuing pit bulls and pit bull mixes from the sewers of Philadelphia, injured and starved, she’s always had room in her heart for the breed. After a divorce from her husband of 15 years, she wanted to do something besides just rescuing and loving them, she wanted to take that extra step and when she had the opportunity, she decided that is exactly what she would do.
The chance came in November 2012, just a week before Thanksgiving. Chrissy’s daughter called her from the Delaware County SPCA excited about a small brindle pit bull puppy. Brewsky, rescued along with his litter mates off a corner being sold for drugs had caught the eye of Chrissy’s daughter and she knew he belonged with their family and just like that, the Dampman family were on the path of making history.
First things first, Brewsky changed to Chad and puppy training started. “Chad was an awesome puppy. I exposed him to everything from day one. Kids, people, other dogs, noises, flooring and of course puppy classes, which he always did so well in. Teachers and people just loved him.” recalls Chrissy, “He just had the quality of attracting people wherever we went.” It didn’t take long for Chrissy and her family to realize that Chad had so much to give and share and Chrissy couldn’t wait to take that journey with him.
Like many dog owners out there, Chrissy and Chad found themselves at Petsmart. Knowing how important socialization training is for puppies, Chad found himself around other dogs and learning the basics. It didn’t take long for the energetic puppy to let his owner know that he was wanting more than just the basics. Wanting more for Chad, Chrissy started searching around for different places that offered much more than the just the basic training and it wasn’t long until she found Philly Unleashed.
Philly Unleashed, rated Best of Philly of 2015, has seen their fair share of amazing dogs and dedicated owners. Connecting with an amazing trainer, Jennifer Green, Chrissy and Chad enrolled in classes and it didn’t take long for their trainer to see just how special Chad was and asked if Chrissy was interested in working with Chad to become a Therapy dog. That path had never dawned on Chrissy and she decided to research it and look at Chad a bit differently, “I started watching and noticing his behavior around young children, even babies. With people in general, and I really thought he had that skill.” Chrissy knew it would be hard work but it was something she knew both her AND Chad could do.
The Road of Awesomeness
Contrary to BSL Advocates, not every dog can pass the Canine Good Citizen training & testing and what is so great about dog owners that participate in the training for the certificate is that it 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. Chrissy and Chad faced ten tests and they knew they couldn’t fail one single test, yet, that is exactly what happened the first time around. Feeling defeated and embarrassed, Chrissy just didn’t know if they would be able to succeed. The trainers and evaluators knew that Chad had it in him and Chrissy and him just needed to work on it just a bit more. Unsure but knowing deep down that Chad was meant to be a therapy dog, Chrissy rolled up her sleeves and went back to work with Chad and they were not going to stop until they both succeeded. Chad took his test twice and by then, the once playful and goofy puppy learned to understand the difference between play time and working time.
It wasn’t long after the completion of earning his CGC certification, that he went on to therapy dog training and registered with Therapy Dogs International. In November 2014, Chad was the first pit bull accepted into the pet therapy program at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and that alone was not an easy task. Chrissy and Chad had to go through interviewing and screening, Chad had to be medically and behaviorally screened through the Mathew J. Ryan Veterinary Hospital at the University of Pennsylvania, background checks, Child abuse clearances, health clearances and orientation and training. He isn’t done yet with breaking stereotypes, in 2015, Chad the Pit bull was nominated for the 2015 AKC award for canine excellence in recognition of his services as a therapy dog.
Dealing with Ignorance
Sadly, like millions of other owners, Chrissy and Chad have caught the attention of BSL advocates and have come under attack from them. Why you ask? For being awesome examples of just how amazing Chad is… and because of his breed. Just recently, Dogsbite.org volunteer, Julie Wall sent an email with the purpose of harassing the Dampmans and unfortunately the Dampmans are not the first nor will they be the last victims of Dogsbite.org members and volunteers.
It’s no secret that William Johnson, outspoken member of Dogsbite.org & Daxton’s Friends resides in Philadelphia, is known for launching cruel attacks on families of therapy dogs, his last online harassment campaign was against an family with an autistic child and their service dog Pupcake and he isn’t alone.
When you are making history and breaking stereotypes, you are bound to stir up the haters, which is exactly what people like Solesky, Johnson and Wall are.
“I think stuff like this when it happens makes you stronger and it makes you want to work harder for people to see and realize and try to make them understand”
Chrissy absolutely understands the stigma that is placed unfairly on Chad and millions of other dogs based off their apparent breed and how they look. When asked how she felt about the annoyance and harassment from BSL advocates, she shares “Well to be honest with you. It’s no different then when I am working with Chad and people point out what he is and pick up their children and run away. It happens in my neighborhood all the time and I have had that happen to me at children’s hospital as well. ” She refuses to let it stop her and Chad from helping and educating, “I try to educate everyone I meet about them. It’s becomes not just about Chad then, it’s about all of them. I feel like I fight for him everyday. And if I touch or change one person along the way then I have done my job !!!” It’s a never ending job and it’s a job that Chrissy and Chad are always going to be working at.
2016 will be a big year for the duo. Chad is being honored with the 2016 Ginger award from the Delaware county SPCA. The award is given to an exemplary pit bull in the community who is a breed ambassador. He will be getting the award on April 9th and 10th.