Champ (Bruno)

FLANDERS, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – A pit bull puppy abandoned in a box in North Bergen last August now has a much brighter future.

The man who found the puppy left in a box under a tree with a note saying, “Please help me. I can’t walk,” nicknamed him Bruno.

The puppy, who struggled to stand up, was turned over to Bergen County Protect and Rescue, a no-kill shelter.

After seeing several veterinarians, doctors found Bruno suffered from severe malnutrition and was likely paralyzed from being kept in a small crate with no bedding. Bruno eventually ended up at Aqua Dog Rehabilitation where the team agreed to work on him pro-bono.

“Honestly, we looked at each other and were not sure if we could really help him,” Petra Ford said. They started with a massage and just sitting him up; they used a harness to help him learn to walk and worked with him each day. They even renamed him Champ.

Now two months later, he holds true to his name and is walking like a champ.

“He is the happiest and funniest little dog you have ever met. He has quite the personality. He snores really loud and when he’s very happy he snorts like a pig,” Ford said. He loves the underwater treadmill, which can often spook other dogs. “He’s walked in here backwards, sideways, all on his own and thought it was pretty funny,” Ford said.

Therapists say he is always ready to work.

“He’ll try anything. Not always successful, but he’ll try,” Robin Ruitenberg said, part of Aqua Dog’s rehabilitation team.

When Champ first arrived, the plan was to get him healthy enough to be put up for adoption, but that plan has changed. “I think he’s kind of decided he’s staying,” laughed Ford.

Champ hangs out at Aqua Dog and goes home with the owner, who has two black labs Champ loves to play with.