Tyrion Pittister survived a dog fighting ring, numerous facial reconstruction surgeries and a year of rehab to get him back on his paws.
Today, he is a twice-published author. The pint-sized pit bull just released “Tyrion’s Town,” a children’s book about his new life in Sewickley with owners Bernie Frey and Laurie Holding.
The story details the pooch’s daily trips around the neighborhood. He visits a bakery, a hair salon and other businesses along Beaver Street for treats and snuggles. The constant human (and canine) interaction helps Tyrion shed the fears that plagued him when he was a pup.
“It’s geared to kids who are afraid of change, of new places and making new friends,” notes Holding, who says she co-wrote the story with her four-legged pal.
“Tyrion’s Town,” as well as the pup’s first tome, “Tyrion’s Tale,” are available on Etsy, Amazon and at the Penguin Bookshop in Sewickely. A portion of the profits goes to the local rescue organization Hello Bully.
Tyrion, named after the “Game of Thrones” character with similar stature and battle wounds, was one of 43 American Pit Bull Terriers involved in a Georgia-based dog fight gambling enterprise. The pack was saved from certain death by the Humane Society of the United States. Hello Bully brought Tyrion to Pittsburgh for medical attention.
Repeated bites on Tyrion’s snout caused scar tissue to build up in his sinus cavity, so part of his nose had to be removed. The procedure was covered by a grant from the Ian Somerhalder Foundation.
Multiple surgeries left the dog with a perpetual snarl, which often frightens passersby. Frey and Holding, who adopted Tyrion in 2015, pass out business cards that give a brief synopsis of his upbringing.
He may look like a ravenous beast, but he’s just a big softie who is spoiled rotten. For instance, he rides shotgun in a custom-made car seat, while Holding sits in the back of the family vehicle, her pockets filled with bones and treats.
Last month, the store debuted its dog park at the corner of Cumberland Road and Covenant Avenue. The quarter-acre grassy area features perimeter fencing, a double-gate entrance, benches and waste bag dispensers.
Representatives from Hello Bully will be on hand, too. In May, the 15-year-old organization updated its mission to include the rescue and rehabilitation of all canine survivors of dog fighting, cruelty, neglect and natural and man-made disasters.
Through the group’s efforts, six dogs have found forever homes in 2020. Founder and President Daisy Wise says COVID-19 didn’t put a muzzle on Hello Bully’s events, it just made her get more creative with them.
Virtual fundraisers and activities are the new norm and the nonprofit’s army of volunteers delivers pet food to owners in need throughout the Pittsburgh area.
Despite the changes, Tyrion will continue to serve as the perfectly imperfect face of the operation.
“He’s everything that we know these dogs can be,” Wise says. “I’m the mom of a dog fighting survivor. I always want to sing their praises because, given the chance, they can do wonderful things.”