Story by Amy W.
When my friend Nancy stopped her car in a city near Albany, New York to help a stray pit bull, I never suspected that five months later I would adopt the beautiful white and brown dog. Nancy turned the stray dog over to the local animal control officer and the dog, who was soon named Big Mama Jubilee, was taken to a holding facility where she would live for several months. While Jubilee was patiently waiting for a home, Nancy visited with her several times a week, taking her out for exercise and getting to know her better.
Like many urban facilities, this holding facility was short on space and the day came when an administrator directed the kennel staff to euthanize Jubilee so they could make room for incoming dogs. The staff resisted the directive and instead they called Nancy explaining that she needed to come pick Jubilee up right away. Nancy left work immediately and arrived in time to move Jubilee out of the holding facility to a private boarding facility. After hearing this story I agreed to adopt Big Mama Jubilee.
Jubilee was an easy addition to our family. She and Frankie (3 year old pit bull mix) immediately hit it off as best buddies and over the past 2 years they have become inseparable. They play tug games, chase each other endlessly around the yard and wrestle, and when they are done they nap together in a pit bull pile. They are an incredibly compatible pair. Jubilee and Poppy (12 year old pit bull mix) get along very well too, but Poppy is a little too old for all those fun and games.
Right from the beginning, Jubilee let me know that she was an eager student and a quick learner. We enrolled in a few local classes and began training together to polish up her basic skills. Jubilee soon earned her Canine Good Citizen and not long after that she and I passed the test to become a Registered Delta Society Pet Partner Therapy Dog Team.
We approached the local library and together we started a Paws to Read program for the young readers in town. Jubilee visits the library often to listen to readers and perform her tricks. We have also visited a shelter for women and children and the local after school program to make a presentation about safe ways to interact with dogs and healthy activities for kids and dogs to do together. Jubilee, her story of survival, and her repertoire of tricks are a huge hit at these events. Jubilee is affectionate, gentle, dynamic, soft and silly all at once, and she absolutely thrives on meeting and interacting with kids.
I work at a summer camp that enrolls inner-city and low-income teens primarily from Boston, New York City and Newark, New Jersey. Jubilee, Frankie and Poppy all move out to the camp with me. Each of the dogs gets to spend time with the teenage campers; hanging out, performing tricks, catching Frisbees, chasing balls and, most importantly, giving the kids the opportunity to just be with, and live alongside, pit bull dogs.
Jubilee is an extremely athletic and energetic dog who, in addition to her therapy dog work, has been working hard on her Frisbee skills. In the fall of 2010 we entered our first disc competition and Jubilee earned herself a first place in Novice Freestyle and second place in Novice Distance and Accuracy. She is a talented girl!
I think that Jubilee's story begins like that of so many of our beloved pet pit bull dogs out there; a stray, a throw a way dog, a pit bull who was kenneled for months with no one bothering to look for her or claim her, a dog viewed as disposable, taking up space, and too hard to adopt. Jubilee had angels in the people who were willing to step in and change the course of events in her life for the better, and I appreciate those people everyday.
Jubilee is a happy soul who brings smiles to the faces of everyone she meets, and she works everyday to help change the world, one heart and one mind at a time.
Here's a movie about Big Mama Jubilee:
1/22/10. Hooper foto. The Gay-Kimball Library in Troy is going to the dogs! Children had the opportunity Thursday to participate in Paws to Read with Amy Willey and her certified therapy dog Jubilee. Each child received about 15 minutes to read to Jubilee. Creating a calm and encouraging environment Jubilee will sit or lie close and listen quietly as children read aloud to her. Its the ultimate in nonjudgmental support, with the added bonus of nice, soft fur. Paws to Read programs have been shown to help readers gain self confidence and improve their reading skills. Payton Cavanaugh, 6, of Troy, gets a thank you lick from Jubilee after a reading.