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!

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Gail Green

Although I have a Red Rescue Lhasa Apso named Daisy whom I adore, my 2nd choice would be a Pittie .. after the Vick incident, it completely changed my mind and others about this wonderful this breed is.. I love them .. I haven't met one that I didn't love .. so out of such horrific circumstances, came an awareness to everyone how sweet the breed is and loving ... so everything serves a purpose ... out of evil came so much good .. God's Blessings to all who are supporting these beautiful creatures ...

Thank you so much for posting this, brought tears in my eyes... I went to adopt a small dog to shelter in Manhattan and brought home some "boolly" type female dog too. She is my angel now, fantastic with babies, children and dogs, super clever dog overall...after my surgery she was sleeping next to me and her head was always right next to my wound...Those kind of dogs, pittie or staffi kind can be SOOOOO amazing that all this rap is truly 101% wrong...humans should truly look into themselves and stop blaming innocent animals for their own mistakes...and I HIGHLY recommend pitties or staffies or mixes of these breeds for family dogs...just train them good and love will do the rest :)


What a wonderful story!!! It just melts my heart to hear that another 'Bully' has found their way to a home that is deserving of their love. Have a fabulous life together. You are all in my prayers...


Love the story! Thank God this couple found Phoebe but I really hate that word bully. It's just used way too much about this breed. I rescued my 2 yr. old pit, Renegade, and he loves to give out kisses to anyone that gives him attention. Maybe too much kissing. I remember when Dobermans, shepards, and rotties were characterized as bully dogs now the Pits get tagged with this name. Can't we use a different name! Anyway, congrats to Phoebe for finding her forever family.

Gerald Vertrees

I have 4. I started rescuing them from animal control so they would not be "humanely" euthanized. My biggest pup is a female full Pit. She was about 6 months old whene I adopted her. The day I got her she was scheduled to be "humanely" put down and the overlooked doing it as scheduled. I named her Lucky Miss. I could not have any better kids.


My Mallory was the sweetest dog I've ever known ! She was a pit mix who came to me via a boyfriend. When he left he left her too saying I was a better animal caretaker. She lived 13.5 years and only stopped then because of epilepsy. she especially liked to go camping and would crawl down into the sleeping bag with me.

Ann Coward

I rescued a Pit Bull at 4 weeks old. His name is Buster. I was terrified of the breed and never imagined that I would ever own one. He is the love of my life.


I must admit that, although we've had all kinds of animals growing up, I was fearful of pits and their respective mixes. It wasn't until, a few years ago, I began volunteering at our local 100% NO-KILL, ALL VOLUNTEER animal shelter that I got to know the breed. TV shows like "Pit Bulls & Parolees" and "Pit Boss" also made me curious. Although I work with cats, I've gotten to know and absolutely LOVE the pits and pit mixes we've had pass through our doors. Each one is treated individually to include temperment testing and each one is placed accordingly.

I am madly in love with this breed now. Who'd have thought that 2 TV shows and animal shelter activism would totally change my mind? People...give these dogs a break. They are wonderful. I could go on for hours on all the happy homes we've seen placing a pit/mix - it's the people, NOT the dog.

Robin Pasholk

1. Lucifer and Asmodeus (Luci and Asmo to friends)--guard-trained Dobies, and when they were off-duty they were very playful and patient. Luci once got stuck in a narrow gap between buildings while chasing a rabbit; and every time we reached in to comfort her while the firefighters worked on getting her unstuck, she covered as much of us as she could reach with doggy kisses (I worked at the store next to the one they guarded, and we became good friends during their off-duty times).

2. Biggy--pure pit, all boy! He belongs to a nephew of mine, who has trained him with a special trick: you start saying his full name, "Notorious B. I. G.", and no matter where in the house he is, you never get to the G without being suddenly smothered with kisses!

3. Blue--pit lady who we doggysat while another nephew and his family were househunting. Loving sweetie who must have been a lapdog in her last incarnation.

So much for the "inherent viciousness" of the breeds...

Lori Udenberg

Although I have only owned Dobermans any Pitbull I have met at pet outings are just as sweet as any other dog.Just like Dobes, Rotties and GSD they need a proper owner that will bring out their best instead of making them something they DON'T want to be.Give them lots of love and they will return it ten-fold.All the dogs I have mentioned would rather sit in your lap than cause harm.