Teacher’s Pet

Category: Animal Heroes, Service with a Smile, Spring 2015 362 1
“That’s what I want people to see. Not a pit bull and not three legs; just Blueberry, a happy dog.” – Nichole Condon. Photo by Terran Bayer, Westway Studio.

 

Nichole Condon and Bluberry.

Middle-school art teacher, Nichole Condon, wasn’t looking for love when she visited San Diego Humane Society shortly after losing her two beloved dogs, but love found her—in the form of a three-legged blue pit bull puppy named Blueberry. As soon as Condon entered her pen, Blueberry—with cone, surgical scar, and all, still recovering from surgery to amputate her hind leg just days earlier—leapt out of a volunteer’s lap straight into Condon’s heart.

“It was magic,” says Condon, “love at first sight.” For 45 minutes, Condon watched Blueberry greet all adults that passed by and wiggle with joy at the sight of children. Condon knew she had found a new companion; what she didn’t expect was the reaction of others when they heard she’d adopted a pit bull.

“I wasn’t thinking it was an issue,” she recalls. “She was just a puppy.” But people reacted with a mixture of excitement and trepidation, as well as concerns about her homeowner’s insurance coverage and pit bulls’ reputation for biting. “I realized I wanted to use this adoption as an opportunity to shed a positive light on the breed,” Condon says. “I wanted people to treat Blueberry as an individual, not a breed, just like I teach my students to treat people as individuals.” 

Guided by her desire to dispel misperceptions, Condon became a San Diego Humane Society volunteer, and Blueberry trained as a Canine Ambassador, passing the training with flying colors. For the past three years, Condon and her now 4-year-old companion have volunteered at events throughout San Diego, from schools and farmers markets to charity walks and dog beaches, where Blueberry, despite only having three legs, is often the fastest runner on the beach.

“She clearly doesn’t even know she has a disability,” Condon says. “She’s a champion and an incredible ambassador, and that’s what I want people to see. Not a pit bull and not three legs; just Blueberry, a happy dog.”

It’s clear that Condon, who was named San Diego Humane Society’s Volunteer of the Month last December, is also an ambassador for the pit bull breed, advocating for acceptance among all they meet.

“Even if someone who is against pit bulls meets Blueberry and says, ‘Oh, she’s the nice one,’ I see a little crack in the armor,” she concludes. “I’ve planted the seed and I hope that seed flourishes.”

Photo by Terran Bayer, Westway Studio.

 

 



One thought on “Teacher’s Pet

  1. Sally M. Geething

    Me & my 2 sisters grew up with a white pit bull. He was thee most devoted dog ever, followed us around the 365 acre farm like it was his job!! We belived he was about 2 when he came as a stray: apparently he had been fought or been a “baited” dog, but he was a sweetie pie..(imiagine that!) He lived a long & happy life dying of kidney failure at about 13 yrs old. HE could/would/ do anything! Herd sheep, hunt rabbitts, pheasants & retrieve…game that was shot. People from Detroit used to come & hunt our land just to use “Whitey”. Oh Yah he pointed the game too. Amazing animal. Mom used to send him up the road with us 3 as we went to neighbor to watch T>V>! When we got there, we would tie a note to his collar, & much to his dismay…..send him Home, so mom would know we arrived safely…then ….when our special tvshow was over mom would send him out to find us girls as we whislted from about a mile away…& Whitey would come a running, wagging that little stub of a tail, & crying in happiness just to see us. He used to jump on our horse & gofor rides with me, teeter totter with our pet sheep, & mostly be kind to everyonnne (except stray dogs that “happened upon our property” Once he got into them they NEVER came back or skirted our drive & slunk around through the field. He never peed in the house & would hold till we thought his bladder would burst…..4 min of cocking lleg with steady stream wasn’ rare. Can ya tell I loved that guy? I tell everyone our story…Thanks for reading….Sally M. Geething

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