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Leonard Lee Rose: From kill shelter to therapy dog

Meet Leonard Lee Rose, Lenny for short. Life’s great for Lenny now but it hasn’t always been that way. Lenny's dad and mom Jeff and Jodi Rose tell his story.

Jeff and Jodi take Lenny regularly take to visit patients as a therapy dog.
Jeff Rose
Jodi and Lenny compete in AKC Obedience Trials.  Lenny was awarded his Novice Title-CD in January in Columbia SC
Jeff Rose

Lenny’s history goes back to the day when he and his three littermates Ali, Tyson, and Doobie were rescued by Low County Lab Rescue from the Colleton County Animal Shelter, a county-run shelter in coastal South Carolina with a high-kill rate. From what his owners have pieced together, Lenny and his three littermates were the leftovers from a large litter bred by a backyard breeder. Lenny appears to be a Labrador Retriever, but no one is really sure.

His pet-parents Jeff and Jodi Rose of Simpsonville say that Lenny shows Border Collie traits as well. Regardless of what his DNA is, there is one thing for certain. “Lenny is smart – very smart,” said Jeff Rose.

The Roses adopted Lenny when he was around four months old. Lenny is quite a contrast to Austin, the senior chocolate Lab that the Roses had lost shortly before.

Losing Austin was traumatic, especially for Jeff who wasn’t sure they really wanted another dog. But Jodi wasn’t so sure about that, and started browsing dogs available for adoption.

When she found the photos of the litter of Labs at Low Country Lab Rescue, they decided to go see them. They came back from Charleston determined to adopt one of the puppies. The question was which puppy? They were torn between Lenny and Tyson.

Lenny, the smallest of the litter, won out, and the weekend before Labor Day in 2012, Lenny “moved” to Simpsonville to his new family.

When Lenny came to live with the Roses, it wasn’t all perfect from the get-go. “He had some bad habits,” explained Jeff. “Barking - Lots of inappropriate barking; play biting; jumping; counter surfing. So we signed Lenny up for classes at Dog Trainer’s Workshop.”

Rose has nothing but good things to say about Dog Trainer’s Workshop and Lenny’s trainer, Connie Cleveland. Lenny quickly progressed from beginner to advanced beginner classes as his intelligence became obvious to everyone he met.

Jeff was determined to train Leonard as a therapy dog because he had firsthand experience at how therapeutic a dog could be. Jeff explains, “For me, the therapy was having the responsibility of waking up in the morning and meeting the demands of a young, active puppy. While puppies are cute, and nice to pet, as you know, owning one is a lot of work. At first, the responsibilities went totally against the grain of how I was living. Lenny helped to get me out of bed. I would walk him, feed him, train him, clean up after him, and so on. We'd nap together in the afternoons.”

Jodi, a Registered Nurse, agreed and so they signed Lenny up for the AKC Canine Good Citizen class. Lenny passed with flying colors, and he completed both his Canine Good Citizen title and his Therapy Dog certification in May 2013.

Lenny also competes in AKC Obedience Trials, starting with the Cluster Show in Greenville in July, 2013. In January of this year, they won two first place awards and Lenny was awarded his Novice Title.

The Roses have been so happy with Lenny that they adopted another Lab, Squiggy, this past year.

Meanwhile, both Jeff and Jodi take Lenny on regular visits to visit patients as a therapy dog. Lenny illustrates well what most people who have adopted rescue dogs can attest to: they can astound you with how far they can go with a little love and TLC – or in Lenny’s case, a lot of love and TLC.