Monday, January 28, 2008

Meet Leo, Our Michael Vick Dog!

Meet Leo. He’s a cheerful, sweet greeter. He’s fond of cuddles and hugs. And he spends his free time sharing his affection with the sick and elderly at a local hospital (having recently passed his therapy dog tests with flying colors). He also spent the first part of his life under the dark, demeaning ownership of football star Michael Vick.

Yes, Leo is one of the fifty Vick dogs confiscated from the football player’s property late last year – although to meet him now you’d never guess at his unfortunate beginnings. In fact, it seems wherever Leo goes he garners adoring smiles and effusive compliments. What a sweet boy! Where did you get him? He’s so well-behaved! To which he responds with tail wags and dreamy gazes from his kohl-rimmed eyes. His most adoring fans are schoolchildren.

Leo doing therapy work

It’s amazing to watch, surprising to some, and yet to those who know the Pit Bull breed, not a surprise at all. Leo is the consummate example of true Pit Bull spirit – despite the life he led before with his former owner, he has made a quick ascension to stardom: ace-ing his obedience classes, playing and socializing with other dogs, and revealing himself to be a true ambassador for all canines, not just Pit Bulls. He has already begun work as a Therapy Dog with Therapy Dogs, Inc. (, and is invited weekly to a local South Bay hospital to bring comfort and smiles to the patients there. His biggest supporters aren’t just the patients either – staff, nurses, and EMTs have taken to calling him “Dr. Leo” for his healing touch.

All in less than two months.

Leo (far right & center) hanging out with his buddies

Marthina McClay, Leo’s trainer, foster mom, and founder of Our Pack, Inc., can’t get over his popularity. “I’ve worked with hundreds of dogs. People are drawn to Leo. I’ve never had a dog that was so magnetic.” She’s quick to brag on his personality, “He’s such a tenderheart. When he came to me, I was prepared for anything. But I never realized I would be meeting the Casanova of Dogs. He has this way of romancing you with those brown eyes of his - he’s truly amazing.”

Of course, if you spoke with Leo today, he would likely gloss over his accomplishments and the association that has made him famous. Instead, he would politely take a seat beside you, plop his head in your lap, gaze up at you with those dreamy eyes and talk about how he enjoys Sunday afternoons playing with his doggie brothers and sister, and how much he looks forward to visiting more people next week.

This is the true Amercian Pit Bull Terrier: resilient, people-loving, willing to please, and just so good-hearted!

(You can also read this article on our website at Article & pictures by volunteer Stephanie Lam.)