Update, June 13, 2016: The K9 Ninja made it to the next round!!!
We can’t wait to see you do your amazing stuff in Las Vegas, Roo.
*** Original story ***
By day, Roo Yori sequences DNA at the Mayo Clinic, helping patients find genetic answers to their health problems.
At night — also, sometimes during the day — he is a tireless advocate for shelter dogs, who goes by an awesome superhero name: K9 Ninja. And right now, good dog lovers, the K9 Ninja needs your help.
Roo and his dogs have been in the public eye for a long time now. He and Wallace the Pit Bull — a shelter dog who almost lost his life when he couldn’t find a home – became famous as a champion frisbee dog team, at a time when Pit Bulls were unheard of in the sport.
Together, they broke records and defeated breed stereotypes. (There’s a book about Wallace and Roo’s lives and achievements that is required reading.)
Roo and his wife Clara then adopted Hector, a former Michael Vick dog whose high-profile work as a therapy dog and beloved pet once again helped prove that Pit Bulls — and dogs rescued out of fighting more specifically — are capable and deserving of absolutely wonderful lives.
Roo is now bringing his passion for dogs to a new venue — specifically, to the extremely popular TV show American Ninja Warrior, in which superb athletes tackle punishingly tough obstacle courses. (Sadly, without cloaks and swords, despite the name.)
The K9 Ninja will be throwing himself at the physical challenges, while using this platform — as big as its participants’ arm muscles — to sing the virtues of shelter dogs and pet adoption to a huge new audience.
He’ll be talking about dogs whenever he’s on camera (and has the chance to talk, not just grunt), and he’ll be competing wearing a t-shirt with a simple, perfectly to-the-point message: Adopt A Dog.
“The opportunity is awesome,” Roo tells us.
Tens of thousands of applicants tried to get on the show, but Roo, who lives in Minnesota and competed in Indianapolis, is one of just 125 “ninjas” from that city’s tryouts selected to compete.
His episode airs tonight — and while he can’t say for sure if he will actually be featured on the show, Roo did make it into the promo . He’s featured impressively swinging high off the ground from one big round hooky-type thing to another — which, at least to us, seems an awfully promising sign.
In other words, let NBC know that there’s a *lot* of folks rooting for the K9 Ninja, and his mission to help shelter dogs get into homes.
“Help me keep the motivation to go as far as I can,” he says. “The better I do, the more chance of exposure I’ll get for the dogs that need it. And I’m going to need all the help I can get to get through the insane obstacles they throw at us.”
Speaking of shelter dogs — we wondered if Roo and his wife Clara’s four dogs have been helpful at all in this pursuit.
Roo says that competing with Wallace was good practice, since it got him used to doing best in front of a crowd.
Johnny — a little Pittie who Clara and Roo brought home last summer after he was rescued from a bad situation — pitches in a bit more every once in a while, too.
For example, he sometimes adorably distributes chalk at the gym where Roo trains.
Mostly, however, the pups serve as inspiration. It’s a job they’re awfully good at, from what we can see.
Featured image via K9 Ninja