ASPCA Happy Tails: Breed Ambassador

Thursday, October 11, 2012 - 11:30am

Jake Grupp came to the ASPCA to check out smaller dogs, but his girlfriend, Mary Yukevich, urged him to just take a peek at the larger ones. That’s when they saw Phoebe, a sweet little Pit mix, sitting quietly in her habitat and wagging her tail hopefully.

“We weren’t really expecting to adopt a dog that day,” Grupp tells us, “but when we met Phoebe we fell in love.”

A visit with Phoebe and an ASPCA behavior counselor sealed the deal, and Phoebe joined the family on the spot.

In the cab ride home, Yukevich knew she’d already fallen hard for Phoebe, but it wasn’t until Grupp was down on his luck that he knew Phoebe had stolen his heart for good.

“I had some teeth pulled and was in a lot of pain,” Grupp tells us. “Phoebe sat near me all the while, and eventually I invited her to climb into the chair with me. It felt like she was making sure I was OK, even though there wasn't a whole lot she could do.”

Phoebe went home already housetrained and knowing a few basic commands, and Grupp and Yukevich spent the first month doing “intense training” with their new pup, deepening their bond and helping their dog become the well-mannered princess she is today.

Soon, Phoebe was working on off-leash training, and the family put it into practice on a recent trip to the beach, where they discovered Phoebe’s special talent as a doggie mentor.

“There was a chocolate Lab puppy named Einstein who was afraid of the water,” Grupp remembers. “Phoebe would go bounding into the ocean and Einstein would follow her until she went in the water, until eventually he went in. It was really special to see that she encouraged him to take the plunge.”

Getting to know Phoebe has even had unexpected effect on Grupp: It changed his mind about Pit Bulls.

“I was wary about adopting a Bully mix at first,” he says, “but after having had Phoebe since June I'm extremely pleased. I'm glad that she picked us that day!”

We are, too, guys!