Historic win for one Wrightsville Rottweiler
By CHELSEA SHANK The York Dispatch
Benny, a 9-year-old Rottweiler, still walks with a
limp, a daily reminder of the cancer he beat when he was 5 years
old. The Wrightsville dog provides therapy dog services and was
recently the first Rottweiler to be honored with the American Kennel
Club Humane Fund Awards for Canine Excellence.
"It is an honor to represent our breed in such a
positive light," said Kelly Skiptunas, Benny's owner.
The 13th annual awards honor five loyal, hard-working
dogs that have made significant contributions to their communities in
each of the following five categories: Exemplary Companion Dog, Law
Enforcement, Search and Rescue, Service, and Therapy.
Each of the ACE recipients will receive $1,000 and an
engraved sterling silver medallion at the AKC/Eukanuba National
Championship in Orlando on Dec. 15.
His work: Benny is an AKC registered therapy dog. He
and Skiptunas make regular therapy visits to Memorial Hospital and
Lutheran Social Services' Kelly Manor assisted living facility and
also the Sprenkle Drive Rehabilitation facility. He is also
READ certified -- Reading Education Assistance Dogs -- and goes to
Kaltreider-Benfer library in Red Lion and the Columbia Public
Library, where students read books to him.
"Benny adores children and is very careful around
them, so he was the ideal dog to train for this type of therapy
work," said Skiptunas, 48, of Lower Windsor Township.
"Kids who have problems reading out loud are often ridiculed in
school by their classmates, so research has found that we can improve
their reading level by having them read to dogs," Skiptunas
said. "The dogs never laugh at them and are always calm and
happy and non-threatening."
Benny has completed more than 250 hours of therapy dog
service since becoming certified five years ago while he went through
treatment for osteosarcoma. Benny earned his AKC and Canadian
Kennel Club Championships and has been honored twice by the American
Rottweiler Club, the breed's AKC parent club. He also has appeared on
public television as a goodwill ambassador for his breed.
Skiptunas got Benny in Ontario when he was 9 weeks
old, and said he has always preferred the company of humans to that
of other dogs, something she believes makes him such an excellent
therapy dog. "He accompanied me to hospice when my dad was
a patient there," Skiptunas said. "He was a huge comfort to
me and to many other patients and their families. He was also
permitted to attend my father's funeral, which was the first time a
dog was permitted in the sanctuary of our church."
-- Chelsea Shank at 505-5432 or firstname.lastname@example.org
-- Photo courtesy of Debbie Flaum The York Dispatch