As a pup, Coal, a Pit Bull, was rescued from the property of a large drug raid in Louisville, KY. Thanks to the wonderful advocate and Samaritan Ellen McKnight, he was lucky enough to come to Pit Mountain Rescue. At 6 months of age, he moved in with a foster family. They quickly fell in love with his silly antics and sweet personality. After just a few weeks, they realized that they couldn’t imagine their lives (or the lives of their other three dogs who Coal played with) without him.
Coal enjoys the visits where he gets to meet and greet new people. He has a habit of looking into a person’s eyes with his soft and soulful brown eyes before giving them a gentle nudge with his soft muzzle to remind them that he loves to have his chest scratched. Coal has a gentle way of working his way into the good graces of people who are either misinformed about Pit Bulls or don’t consider themselves a “dog person” at all.
His favorite type of therapy visits are when he gets to welcome home newly returned soldiers from war. Coal and his handler participate in a program called Welcome Home Dogs, where they spend hours with newly returned National Guard soldiers who are completing their deployment demobilization at a National Guard facility. The soldiers are required to complete the four-day demobilization process at a base outside of their home state, and while they are technically on U.S. soil, they are not “home” and do not have the opportunity to see their family. Coal and the other Welcome Home Dogs are invited to hang out in the waiting areas where the soldiers congregate in large numbers waiting for their turn to complete their processing.
The soldiers are always excited to see the dogs, and the demobilization staff have reported that the dogs always “take the edge off” and put the soldiers in a more relaxed and comfortable mind set. After the stress of a war-time deployment and the anxiety of their upcoming (official) homecoming ceremonies, many soldiers are unsure how to feel or act during their demobilization process. Coal comes right in to the crowded waiting areas, soliciting pets and hugs from everyone he can reach, and then proceeds to perform his silly tricks to an often amused crowd.
Coal’s handler takes the time to discuss Coal’s history and his personality as well as his job as an “ambassadog.” Often, the conversation includes the myths surrounding Pit Bulls, the benefits of adopting a rescued Pit Bull and responsible ownership of dogs and cats.
In addition to a therapy dog, Coal also worked as a “friendly introduction” dog for the Humane Society of Indianapolis and is also a search and rescue dog with Indiana K9 Search and Recovery, as well as an “ambassadog” for Indy Pit Crew and the official spokesdog of Indiana Humane Lobby Day (where Coal’s handler and other advocates meet with Indiana Senate and House of Representatives to discuss the laws in Indiana that impact animals).
This article first appeared on StubbyDog.org