MURRAY Piggy was hit by a car in December 2006 and hasn't been able to use her hind legs properly since then.
Instead, the stocky, tan pit bull's hips are strapped to a two-wheeled cart, and the happy-but-troubled dog pulls herself around using her two front legs.
Despite the tribulation, Piggy has earned the prestigious Canine Good Citizenship certification from the American Kennel Club. She also continues to work as a guard dog just days ago, she barked to alert her owner that would-be burglars were breaking into his truck.
"If she weren't such a good dog, we would have made another choice," said April Hollingsworth, who owns the dog with Daniel Alix. "If she could walk and run around on her own someday, I would do anything."
Alix and Hollingsworth have spent hundreds of hours and significant money helping Piggy recover since the accident. But it is worth it, they say. Once a shelter dog, Piggy is now family.
Dog trainer Michelle Rizzi wishes more dog owners were as caring and attentive. But even a few minutes a day can make a difference in behavior modification, she said.
Two other pit bulls, Janey and Gaea, also recently earned the Canine Good Citizenship certification. The three dogs showed off their self-control Thursday at a public demonstration.
To earn the behavioral certification, each dog was required to sit still and allow a stranger to pet her. Each one also had to show that she would stay at her owner's command and pass another, unfamiliar dog showing no more than friendly interest.
"That's really pretty incredible for them," said Rizzi, who administered the test and taught the necessary classes beforehand.
Piggy, Gaea and Janey are excellent examples of their breed, Rizzi added. Unless trained to be mean, most pit bulls are very good with people, she said.
Carlye Revill adopted white and gray-polka-dotted Janey from the Humane Society a little more than a year ago. She has another, older pit bull that she also rescued from the shelter and said the dogs are great with children.
Now, both dogs have earned Canine Good Citizenship certification.
"Adopting a Staffy (Staffordshire) or pit bull at your local shelter is a wonderful thing to do," Rizzi said.
The demonstration was staged partly in response to a recently proposed Sandy city ordinance that would have placed restrictions on dogs based on their breed. But animal lovers came out in force to protest the changes, saying ownership was far more important than breed. The ordinance was not passed.
"Any dog can become vicious or mean if its owners are mean or if its not socialized early enough," said Humane Society of Utah Director Gene Baierschmidt.
The Humane Society offers puppy classes and three levels of obedience training. Dogs can test for Canine Good Citizenship certification at the end of the third class.For more information or to adopt, visit utahhumane.org or visit the center at 4242 S. 300 West.
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