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.”