Former Bait Dog to Shine at National Dog Show as Therapy Dog Ambassador

Only time will tell which purebred pooch will win a top title at the National Dog Show in Philadelphia on November 17th and 18th, but there will be one tail-wagger in attendance who is guaranteed to win the collective heart of the audience.

A 22-month-old Staffordshire Terrier/Boston Terrier named Vivian Peyton will be one of three Therapy Dog Ambassadors introduced to dog devotees at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center. Once used as a bait dog, Vivian was rescued from Animal Care and Control Team of Philadelphia by New Leash on Life USA, which pulls shelters dogs deemed unadoptable due to health or behavioral problems and pairs them with inmates from the Philadelphia Prison System for a the New Leash on Life program, which offers both the opportunity for a brighter future.

During the three-month course, dogs in the New Leash on Life program are trained and learn socialization skills to prepare them for adoption, while the inmates who educate their canine pupils break down the barriers formed from their former lives and become eligible for training and job assistance working with animals after their release from prison.

Vivian, Li’l Abner and Stella pay a visit to The Ronald McDonald House

Having healed both physically and emotionally, Vivian passed her canine “good citizen test” in 2012, and today she helps her loving pet parent Michele Pich, a Veterinary Grief Counselor at PennVet, as she comforts those who have lost a beloved furry family member and visits children at the Ronald McDonald House.

In addition to her regular therapy appearances, Vivian and her fellow Therapy Dog Ambassadors– Dogues de Bordeaux Li’l Abner and Stella– will handle several publicity assignments, including appearances on Philadelphia TV shows and NBC’s Today show in New York City, working with John O’Hurley and David Frei, the co-hosts of the Thanksgiving Day special, The National Dog Show Presented by Purina. The canine trio will meet and greet thousands at the Ronald McDonald House exposition booth during The National Dog Shows at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center in Oaks, Pennsylvania, Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 17-18.

Vivian was among New Leash on Life’s second graduating class. When the fifth class of dogs complete the program, 28 dogs will have successfully finished one of the country’s most unique prison-dog training programs.

For more information regarding New Leash on Life USA:

Photo Credit: Matthew Vlahos Public Relations;Vizion Group PR

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About Grace Sydney

Grace Sydney is the Assistant Editor of and, covering celebrity-related rescue news. She operates the @HollywoodDogs Twitter account sharing information on celebrity fundraising for rescues and shelters.

  • Vivian Peyton’s pics are overwhelming. He really gives
    joy to people around him. I hope he wins the top title at the National Dog Show
    in Philadelphia.

  • sandy weinstein

    i wish we could save them all. in nc, there are so many kill shelters. one tv station is doing a piece on one tmrw. they have the highest kill rate in the state. one kill shelters in nc, puts it on fb, this dog has only 1 day to live, or hours, it makes me sick…instead of spending those billions for the elections, it should have been spent helping these animals and the victims of sandy.

    • InyRules

      I have the same hopes that you do. Fortunately in FL, we successfully voted YES on the ballot to increase funding to shelters, and we could soon, with new legislation, be a no-kill state. My hope is that all states become no kill states, and we fund more animal/rescue shelters. I know plenty of people who do not pick up strays and take them to shelters for the fear of them getting put down.