Rochester Rising Episode 20: Roo Yori, the K9 Ninja, and the Wallace the Pitbull Foundation

This week I got to sit down and speak with Rochester resident Roo Yori. This year, Roo competed on the NBC show American Ninja Warrior as the K9 Ninja. During the show, he wore a shirt with the message “Adopt a Dog,” championing for shelter dogs everywhere. Roo has been a dog advocate in Rochester and beyond for several years. He entered the national limelight with his rescued Pitbull, Wallace, when the pair became disc dog sensations. Roo founded the Wallace the Pitbull Foundation with his wife, Clara, to aid shelter dogs and the people dedicated to them. Roo’s is a fantastic story of how one person, with some help of course, can get their message onto a national level. And he does all this while working a full-time job as a lab technician.

  • American Ninja Warrior (ANW) is a television show where competitors try to make their way through extremely challenging obstacles with the opportunity to win a $1M grand prize, which only one person has ever won.
  • Roo competed this past year, in ANW Season 8, and made it to the National Finals in Las Vegas.
  • Roo’s passion to help shelter dogs began when he and his wife adopted not one, but two, dogs from Paws and Claws Humane Society here in Rochester. They wanted to support the dogs they were not able to adopt, so they both volunteered at the shelter and Clara worked at Paws and Claws for some time.
  • One of these Paws and Claws dogs, Ajax, was Roo’s first disc dog. The other, Angus, is now 14-years-old and tagged along with Roo and Clara on the American Ninja Warrior set.
  • The couple later adopted a Pitbull from the shelter who needed a little bit more help, named Wallace. Wallace became a positive symbol for Pitbulls everywhere and even had a book written about him and his journey as a disc dog champion.
  • The Yoris later adopted one of Michael Vick’s former dogs, named Hector, and trained him to be a Certified Therapy Dog.
  • Roo continues to learn with the Wallace the Pitbull Foundation. He says it’s important to find a good team with people who can take over some of the responsibilities necessary to keep a non-profit running and establish a good system for them to follow.

“If we challenge ourselves, that’s how we’re going to learn and grow and improve as people.” –Roo Yori