Animal Emotions

Do animals think and feel?

Vivien's New Leash on Life: A Dog's Tale of Hope

A great story about abuse, rehabilitation in a prison, and life as a therapy dog

Meet Vivian Peyton, an awesome and very lucky Staffordshire Terrier mix

We all need an "up story" that can give us hope. Here's a short and sweet tale, a perfect one with which to begin your weekend. 

Peyton, a Staffordshire Terrier mix, had a very rough life. Her scarred body strongly suggested she had been used as a bait dog in vicious dog fighting rings. Just before she was to be euthanized, a group called New Leash on Life rescued her from the shelter and brought her to a detention facility. Once there, Peyton "took training lessons with prisoners and began the long road that would lead to her unexpected career as a therapy dog. She also got a fresh name for her fresh start: Vivian Peyton."

“Please, just promise me that you’re going to love her as much as I love her"

Having taught courses on animal behavior, animal emotions, and animal protection and conservation for years in the Boulder County Jail, as part of Jane Goodall's global Roots & Shoots program, I wasn't at all surprised to read what one prisoner said when Vivien left the detention center:  “Please, just promise me that you’re going to love her as much as I love her." Just about all of the men with whom I've worked would have said the same thing. 

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I just wanted to share this story of hope because all too often we're inundated with bad news. Vivien's tale is a wonderful antidote to all of the animal abuse and cruelty about which we read far too often. It's a wonderful way to say thanks to all of the incredible people who really care about other animals and who work selflessly on their behalf.

The teaser image of Vivian Peyton with a child, courtesy of the Ronald McDonald House, can be seen here.

Marc Bekoff, Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

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