Ruby, certified therapy dog visiting a senior home Yes, Ruby is a pit bull. One of those dogs many claim is a vicious and dangerous dog, unpredictable and prone to attack at any time.

Well, Ruby is a certified therapy dog and not only that, she’s also received the Minnesota Veterinary Medical Association Animal Hall of Fame Companion Award and was recently given an achievement award from the Animal Farm Foundation in New York. And to top of this list of achievements, she’s also taken a turn on the stage in “Cheaper by the Dozen” at the Lakeshore Players in White Bear Lake about a year ago.

Yeah, she’s a scary dog, look how terrified the residents of Croixdale, an independent assisted-living and memory care facility in Bayport, are. She cuddles and loves, get pets and attention and brings joy and smiles to all those the encounters. Scary, hunh?Ruby visisting with senior residents

Ruby’s life wasn’t always so idealic. When she was found as a puppy three years ago she was starving and abandoned in an empty building. Most of her fur was missing and she spent weeks recovering and recuperating before an attepmt could even be made to find her a foster home.

In come the Bettendorf’s. They hadn’t planned to add another dog to their family but after being asked three times to foster, they finally relinquished and agreed to take her for the Thanksgiving weekend. After Thanksgiving dinner, Ruby crawled onto the loveseat and fell asleep in the lap of a family guest and the rest is history.

Ruby underwent rigorous testing to be certified by Therapy Dogs International and is trained and socialized at least once a week at Total Recall, a dog obedience school in Hugo run by a retired St. Paul police officer and his wife.

Mary Jo Ducklow, activities director at Croixdale has no concerns that Ruby is a pit bull, “When they’re a therapy dog, they’ve gone through all that training. I mean they’re trained with wheelchairs running over their paws, for goodness sakes.”

And the residents? “You can see them relax when they’re petting the dog,” she said.

“He reminds me of the dog I had,” said Irene Kreutz, who turned 94 on Christmas Day. “He’s a wonderful dog.

“Look how he listens,” she said as Ruby cocked her head at another resident as if to say, “What?”

To the residents at Croixdale, who Ruby visits every other week, she is 56 pounds of love!

Ruby also spreads her love Margaret Parmly Residence in Chisago City and owner, Pat Bettendorf, said he’s talking with officials at Gillette and Children’s Hospitals in St. Paul about taking her there, too.

The Bettendorf’s also include another pit bull, Tiger, and another certified therapy dog, Venus, a not too bright but awfully sweet Rottweiler as part of their family.

As for pit bulls, “Ruby is not the exception,” Pat Bettendorf said. “There’s a lot of good pit bulls out there.

“We’re not saying these breeds are for everybody, but it’s just training and socialization, training and socialization,” he said. “You do have to be the alpha, but with any dog, really, you have to be alpha. It’s not a light responsibility.”

Stories like this are not that rare, this is just the side that the media shows too seldom because it’s not ‘sensational’ enough.

You hear about wonderful dogs like Ruby, a pit bull, and others, then you hear about the other side, the bites and the fighting and you have to wonder, you have to ask yourself, where does the responsibility lie.

The answer to that question is so easy and basic. The responsibility lies in the hands of dog owners. Again and again you’ll hear the phrase, ‘Punish the Deed, Not the Breed.’ In the hands of weak, inept, cruel and bad owners, pit bulls, like most any breed of dog, can be a loaded weapon. Yes, pit bulls, with isn’t really even a breed but a label to cover several breeds, American Pit Bull Terrier, the American Staffordshire Terrier and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, are bred to be strong dogs but they’ve also been bred to be highly trainable and human friendly.

In dog temperament training tests, they actually score in the mid 80 percentile, higher than the beloved family dog, the Labrador retriever.

Now in Minnesota legislation will be introduced in 2008 to ban, yes ban, 5 breeds of dogs, pit bulls and Rottweilers being two of the breeds. Minneapolis is considering placing more restrictions on dangerous dogs, and Apple Valley has proposed restricting some breeds to industrial areas.

Because of stupid people, cruel people, vicious people and irresponsible media representation, pit bulls, once called ‘Nanny Dogs’, once known as one of America’s most beloved breeds of dog, are being banned, abandoned and killed by the thousands.

Pit bulls, like other dogs labeled dangerous and vicious before them, are not bad dogs.

Just a quick little personal story. My significant other was actually one of the people who bought into the myth of pit bull to a small degree. He recently started a new job and the owner of the building where he works has a pit bull and my guy has just fallen in love with this dog. Every time he see him, he comes home and tells me stories about him; he is the sweetest, most lovable dog and all he wants to do is be petted and climb on labs and give kisses. Vicious dog, eh? NOT!!

Bottom line, get real people!! Punish the real dangerous and vicious ones, the people who turn their dogs into killers. Stop punishing the innocent and defenseless victims, it DOES NOT WORK!!

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