Roo and Clara Yori established the Wallace the Pitbull Foundation in memory of world champion frisbee dog, Wallace – a former un-adoptable and unwanted Pitbull destined for the dog fighting underworld.
Rob traveled to Rochester, MN to interview Roo.
How were you feeling when you were on American Ninja Warrior ?
Very excited and nervous. Excited for the opportunity, I had wanted to do it for a long time. Nervous because you only get one shot. The better I do the better the chance that my message of advocating for Shelter dogs can be put out there.
How many dogs do you have, what are their names and breeds?
We have 3 very old dogs: Angus is black lab mix, Mindy-Lou is a toy Aussie mix and Scooby is a rat terrier mix. Johnny is a 2 year old Pit Bull. He is a ‘Court Case Dog’ which means that when his owner was arrested he went to a Shelter and was held as evidence in a dog-fighting case. It used to happen in these circumstances that these dogs would be routinely euthanized but Safe Humane Chicago changed that and these days these dogs are mostly able to be adopted.
What made you think that Wallace would make a good Frisbee dog?
It was my wife, Clara’s idea. She suggested I give Wallace a try since he liked playing fetch at the shelter. He took to it immediately and was a natural.
Besides a Pit Bull, what is your best dog breed?
A medium sized mutt.
When did you create Wallace the Pit Bull Foundation
After Wallace passed. I wanted to do something to have his memory continue. He had a large Facebook following and I wanted to continue the work we did with Pit Bull and shelter dog advocacy.
What does the Foundation do?
It raises money for donations to other dog advocacy organizations and programs. Safe Humane Chicago is one. The ‘Pit Bulletin Legal News’ created the annual ‘Wallace Award’ for an individual who is a voice for Pit Bulls. The Foundation gives $1,000.00 to a charity of the winner’s choice. The Foundation also focuses on education. I talk to schools and encourage awareness of Shelter needs. Social media is also utilized to educate on the needs of Shelter dogs.
How can I help you?
Do what you are doing. Encourage people to adopt dogs and cats in your area.
Do you have a tattoo of Wallace?
No. Not yet.
Do your dogs right now compete in tournaments?
No. Scooby used to, he is retired now. Johnny is not a competitive Frisbee dog, we just have fun in the backyard.
What makes a good Frisbee dog?
Dogs that like to play fetch. If a dog likes to play with toys you can sometimes teach them. Some dogs are just natural ‘fetchers’.
What was your favorite and least favorite obstacle on American Ninja Warrior?
Salmon ladder is my favorite and the rolling log is definitely my least favorite.
Why do you do American Ninja Warrior?
I enjoy the physical challenge. I have always loved obstacle courses and to see what’s possible. It is also a great platform to spread a message that I am passionate about : Shelter Dogs.
If you could describe a Pit Bull in one word what would it be.
If you could describe Wallace in one word what would it be.
Driven. Complicated would work too.
When did you start doing Frisbee tournaments and what was your best part of it?
We started with Ajax, our first rescue dog because we thought he would enjoy it. My favorite thing was competing with Wallace and seeing everyone cheering for him. Seeing Wallace in real life changed perceptions of what people had heard about Pit Bulls and helped to open lines of communication. Pit Bulls are often seen as ‘different’ but I am educating people that they are dogs first and foremost.
How do you want to grow Wallace The Pit Bull Foundation?
Operationally I need volunteers to further the cause and increase fundraising efforts for the dogs.
What did Wallace struggle with?
He has a lot of health problems. Lots of allergies and auto-immune issues. It never really phased him too much it was more of a concern for Clara and I. We had to work with his diet a lot. His ideal diet turned out to be venison, rabbit, elk, bison and a raw diet.
What advice do you have for me?
Keep doing what you are doing. Dogs and cats don’t have a choice in the circumstances they end up in. They are not in a shelter because they are ‘bad’. They need people like you and I to step up help spread the message of shelter awareness and educate people that they are there through no fault of their own.
What do you want people to know about Pitt Bulls?
They are just like other dogs and should be judged on their own merits and who they are as individual dogs not just because they happen to have a big head and wide chest. Don’t act just on others’ opinions. For example Hector (a former Michael Vick dog adopted by Roo and Clara) – everyone said he needed to be put down because of where he came from. You have to take the time to find out if the opinions out there are true or not. Educate yourself.
Read the must get book review here of :
Wallace: The Underdog who Conquered a Sport, Saved a Marriage and Championed Pit Bulls – One Flying Disc at a Time by Jim Gorant
Click on this link to go to the Foundation’s website and buy this truly remarkable story !