VALPARAISO | Piper has been discovered.
The 3-year-old pit bull from Valparaiso is the newest star of Chicago television station WCIU’s “U Dogs” promotion. Each spot, which introduces a dog and its hometown, runs between WCIU programs throughout the day.
At the invitation of WCIU staff, Piper’s owner, Laura Bruccoleri, of Valparaiso, and her daughter, Ryann Kettelson, escorted Piper to tape her spot at the station just before Christmas.
“I was a nervous wreck,” said Bruccoleri.
After the taping, station staff told Bruccoleri the segment wouldn’t air until January, but Bruccoleri stumbled on Piper’s first on-air promo while watching television late at night Dec. 21.
“My husband had fallen asleep on the couch in the living room,” said Bruccoleri. “I yelled, 'Get up, Michael, she’s on TV!’ ”
Bruccoleri says she always knew Piper was a star. After she adopted the dog three years ago, Bruccoleri trained and certified Piper as a therapy dog. Bruccoleri and Piper regularly visit hospitals, nursing homes and the Visiting Nurse Association’s hospice center in Valparaiso.
“When I put her (therapy dog) vest on her, she knows exactly what to do,” said Bruccoleri. “She goes right up and puts her head on the bed, and they reach down and pet her. Even if it’s for 30 seconds, they smile and get rid of whatever else is on their mind.”
Bruccoleri is thrilled by Piper’s career as a therapy dog and her role as a U Dog and considers Piper an “ambassador” for the breed.
“I’m trying to educate people and show that Piper is not an exception as a pit bull, but she’s an example of a pit bull,” said Bruccoleri. “They are amazing dogs, one of the best family dogs you can have. They are so loyal, loving, gentle and kind. They got into the wrong hands, and people started turning them around and using them as weapons.”
Bruccoleri plans to visit area schools with Piper and teach children about responsible pet ownership.
“I’m going to do whatever it takes, go as big with her as I can, do something really cool,” said Bruccoleri. “It is amazing what she does for people. It’s gratifying to take her in somewhere and just know she is going to make everyone smile when she does something silly or makes a funny noise. All of a sudden everyone is petting her and smiling. She loves to do that.”