CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Before the Super Bowl, check out the Puppy Bowl on Animal Planet and keep an eye out for one pit bull pup from right here in the Lowcountry. Bronte (who now goes by Bruno) is a pit bull-mix who makes his national television debut this weekend. Named to the 2nd string of Team Ruff, the puppy made the most of his opportunity.
Cheri Thompson says he "definitely got to live the life. He stayed at the Hilton which is animal friendly, he slept on the bed, walked the streets of New York, took in the sights and just had a really big time."
Thompson traveled with Bruno to New York City in October. She says he definitely had some big game jitters.
"He was a little nervous and he's a stress eater. 'Who knew that?'" says Thompson.
She said the dog spotted the bowls of food he didn't hold back, eating the whole thing. His nervous eating caused a couple of problems.
Thompson explains "What goes in must come out" and Bruno committed an 'illegal procedure' on the field. After that, he was ready for a nap.
Even though he didn't become a star at Puppy Bowl XI, that fact Bruno was there at all is pretty remarkable. Healing Species of Orangeburg responded to an animal cruelty call and found Bruno and his two siblings in terrible shape. One of the puppies did not survive.
"They were infested with intestinal worms, had Coccidia, and had fevers" Thompson shared.
She said Bruno "would not look at you, didn't know how to play with a toy. It was as if he'd almost given up."
Over time, the pups were nursed back to health. But even then, being a pit bull almost cost Bruno his chance.
"We almost didn't send in his video in to Animal Planet because we fell into that same line of thinking of 'Oh they probably wouldn't want a pit bull'" Thompson explains.
A quick cell phone video was enough to get Bruno drafted for Puppy Bowl XI. After Super Sunday, Thompson hopes Bruno will become a Healing Species classroom dog to teach children the lessons he embodies.
"No matter what your past, no matter what you come from or what you've been through, that is not what defines you," Thompson said.
Healing Species is a non-profit organization in Orangeburg with a mission of teaching compassion, preventing violence, and
changing lives through rescued dogs. You can find out more about the organization at healingspecies.org.
Bruno's shelter to stardom story continues in Charleston. Lisa Lewerke and her fiance, Chad Grooms adopted Bruno and his sister after the Puppy Bowl filming in October.