Written by: Shireen Haynes
In May of 2012, Terry Steg of Pittsford made a decision that would turn out to have a major impact on his life. He adopted a pit bull named Mookie from Rochester Animal Services (RAS).
Terry had been looking at another dog that looked like Petey from “The Little Rascals” but that particular dog had a little too much energy. The foster parent had another dog and introduced Terry to Mookie. It wasn’t love at first sight, however. Terry adopted Mookie because he felt sorry for him. Mookie was 25 pounds underweight, had several scars, whip worms and was very scared. He would flatten out like a pancake when stressed.
Once Terry adopted Mookie, he took him to obedience training, in which Mookie placed first out of twelve dogs. Terry and Mookie continued on with intermediate obedience. The instructor, Karlene Bonne, noticed that Mookie liked to learn and felt that he needed a “job.” The next step was for Mookie to earn a Canine Good Citizen certification (CGC). Terry says, “I decided to go for CGC because I watched “Dog Town” – the National Geographic series about the Michael Vick dogs confiscated for fighting. They determined the dogs would be adoptable if they passed this test so I thought it would be a measurable accomplishment for my pit mix, especially because some home owners’ insurance companies won’t insure pit bulls.”
After Mookie passed his CGC on the first try, Terry decided to look for a new challenge, one that would stimulate Mookie’s mind. Terry found a beginner’s agility class at Dog Obedience Training Club of Rochester, New York (DOTCRNY). Mookied excelled at it but DOTCRNY closed. They then moved on to the agility program at Boomtown with Tina Powers. Tina encouraged Terry and Mookie to compete in Canine Performance Events (CPE). Mookie did so well that he moved up to Level 4 (out of 6) within one year. “Agility has done wonders for his confidence,” says Terry. “Mookie was so fearful and would shut down when exposed to new situations. Now he competes in front of crowds and can concentrate on complex courses as if he were alone.”
“Mookie is the only pit-mix at his CPE agility competitions. Initially, people were skeptical to be near him, but now he has many friends following his progress. I adopted him because he was pathetic looking and I felt sorry for him. He wasn’t considered adoptable at RAS because of his fearfulness so he went into foster care at Wooftown, where he still goes for daycare. He has turned into a great dog. It took a fair amount of work to get him over his separation anxiety and fear reactivity but it has all been worth it. This dog has exceeded my wildest dreams.”
“After my experience with Mookie, I decided that I wanted to help other shelter pit bulls,” says Terry. “I adopted Mookie in May of 2012 and started volunteering at RAS in January 2014.” RAS played matchmaker again in April when Terry adopted another pit bull named Clark. Clark is one and a half years old. He also has been through obedience and successfully completed his Canine Good Citizen and therapy dog certifications. Recently, Terry was walking his dogs and a neighbor came out to greet them. She liked the dogs so much that she went to RAS the very next day to adopt her own dog.
Mookie, the dog once considered “unadoptable” due to his fear issues is now an agility champion. Clark is a certified therapy dog. Terry has not one, but two, Canine Good Citizen certified pit bulls in his home. Each day, Terry, Mookie and Clark are breaking down stereotypes and promoting all of the great animals available at Rochester Animal Services. Terry’s commitment to Rochester Animal Services and his dogs is unparalleled. We wish all of our animals could be this lucky!