When Best Friends Animal Society staff members pulled a pretty, golden-colored pit bull terrier mix from a busy Los Angeles city shelter, no one knew she’d soon find her true calling – twice.
Chata the dog’s incredibly sweet, loving and calm demeanor made her stand out to an adopter in search of a therapy dog to bring to school, where she worked with special- needs children.
Chata went home with the adopter, got certified as a therapy dog and it looked as though she’d found her forever home. But then her adopter was transferred to a different school, one that did not allow pit bull terriers. Despite her gentle nature and special training, Chata wasn’t welcome there.
Her adopter faced a conundrum. Chata thrived in her therapeutic role. Not allowed at the school, she would have to stay home alone all day, instead of being with someone and doing the service work she loved. Her adopter felt the best thing would be for Chata to go back to the Best Friends adoption center, where she could be matched up with someone who needed her.
One week after Chata returned, military veteran Joseph Stanberry came in looking for an emotional support dog. Best Friends adoption specialists immediately told him about Chata, but there was a problem. Joseph had his heart set on a Labrador retriever, having grown up with a Lab who’d been his best friend for years, but he couldn’t find that one who really tugged at his heartstrings. So, he agreed to meet Chata.
When Chata entered the room where Joseph was waiting, she immediately walked up to him, sat down and let him pet her. Upon meeting her, Joseph said, “I just felt like I couldn’t leave there without her,” and with his girlfriend soon decided Chata was the one.
Joseph took his new dog home, complete with her service vest from her former adopter. He renamed her Summer and enrolled her in a training program for dogs and veterans. Summer fulfills her line of duty just by being herself; as Joseph put it, “She helps me with anxiety and depression. I’m also going to have her trained to help me hear (better), because I have a significant amount of hearing loss due to explosions and gunfire in the military.”
Summer now rocks her service uniform and accompanies Joseph nearly everywhere, bringing a sense of calm and duty wherever they go. When Joseph stops, she halts and awaits her marching orders from her captain.
And so Summer and Joseph found a home in each other.
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Photos courtesy of Joseph Stanberry