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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So happy to see another Pittie Lover in the world...I did not even know what one was when I saved the first one, now I have a couple.

Lynda Valero-Garcia

I rescued an approx. 4 month old Lab/Pit mix that was abandoned at my works parking lot, he was infested with fleas and famished. He has turned out to be the sweetest and loving dog. He is now 19 months old and is the best looking dog. Wish more people would realize just how loving these pups are. His name is Grayson, but I call him "noodle", because everytime I arrive from home he sways like a noodle out of joy seeing me. He also thinks he's a lap dog, although he weighs 70 lbs.

Suzanne Rock

Michael Vick says he has gotten a dog, for his kids. Hopefully the authorities will step in before it's to late.


I have had pit bulls for nearly 60 years, since being given my first one for my 6th birthday. I now use one for my service dog, and could not be happier. She weighs over 60 pounds, but on a plane she can curl into a ball the size of a toy poodle. She prances down the road when she pulls my wheelchair, and does more to help me than a human would. When working, she always wears her best pittie grin, making it obvious to all who sees her that she enjoys her job.


I LOVE this story. I have such a soft spot for Pitties. And their breed is so misunderstood. These dogs are just big teddy bears! I just recently adopted my first pit, her name is Lily. I'd wanted a pit for a long time, but just recently circumstances were such that I could get one. She is so friendly, she loves everyone she meets and is very gentle with my dad who is disabled, the kids next door and my two small dogs. And yes, she doesn't think she is a lapdog, she KNOWS she is a lapdog. :-) It breaks my heart to see all of the pits and pit mixes in the shelters who need and deserve good homes. So, let's all get the word out about these wonderful, special dogs!

Francie Johnson

In October 2012, it was announced on the news that the City of Knoxville, TN is considering making it illegal to own Pitts and Staffi Breeds in the City limits. All my grand-puppies are pitts and we own homes inside the City. I'm totally shocked and can't believe that they would actually consider doing this. We must let
the Knoxville City Government know that we love our dogs and they are not bad. These dogs are a registered, domesticated breed; they are our pets and part of our families. Thanks


I have 9 dogs 3 are pibbles all are rescued we are one big happy family!!! I am an advocate for the breed to no avail. I will do anything to help save this majestic breed!!! love hearing happy pibble stories!!

Susanna Eaton

Nala came to me via my son and his girlfriend. She is a beautiful and smart brindle pit. I do animal control and never thought I would ever be taking care of a pit. I was always looking for a home for her because I already have 3 Jack's. I did find a home for her and HATED to give her up because she was so loving and fun. She slept with me every night. Shh-don't tell my Jack's! One of the smartest dog's I've had. Miss her dearly.

Karen Socolow

Yes, Pits are wonderful, but there still are too many misapprehensions about them and dumb laws against them that make it very difficult for them and their families. This must be more vigorously worked on for change so that more of them stand a chance of being adopted and kept by normal, law abiding people without harassment. Backyard breeding must be stopped and human bad actors must be stopped, including ignorant public officials passing irrational, unreasonable laws.

Michael Vick has a dog??? That is insane. I do not believe in his supposed turnaround...they all suddenly "find god" in prison. Quicker parole.


no one knows how this breed is until they own one. they are the most loving dogs i have ever owned. you give them your heart they will do anything for you. my sweetheart is a baby scared of everything. all they want is your love. wouldnt have ask for a better dog.