Its just healing therapy, animals have that type of effect, he explained.
Brutus connected immediately with Dexter, now 2. The white Dogo Argentino, with one blue eye and one brown eye, was a rescue himself. They started walking around the block every day.
Dexter has done so much good stuff for me, said Brutus. Dogs dont say, I know what youre going through. They just look at you and wag their tail and run to you.
Andina and Villalona watched as Brutus has become more enthusiastic. He has goals and a Zen-like drive to accomplish them.
That kid is a superstar man, plain and simple, Andina said. Just when you think you have problems, just when you think things are bad, this kid has a life-changing experience. Thats serious what he went through, and he just pushed forward.
Brutus said once he took rehab seriously, he learned to walk again in about four months. He still goes sometimes to amputee support groups. But he hasnt had a bad day in a long time.
He attends class at Miami Dade College five days a week. He hits the gym on campus. On Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays evenings, he trains on the bike at Brian Piccolo Park and Velodrome in Broward. On the weekends, he goes for a long ride, as much as 40 miles. His new coach, Steve Mlujeak, said they are tailoring a program for him. The first step: getting the right equipment, like a better bike and heart-rate monitor.
Its going to be up to him, Mlujeak said of his dreams of going to the Paralympics in Rio. Just going what hes gone through learning how to walk again hes got some serious determination. Being an athlete is not all on talent, its a lot of sacrifice.
One of Brutus biggest challenges is daily transportation. He doesnt have a suitable vehicle. He relies mostly on his parents, Pierre and Estella, who are from Haiti and both work during the day. His dad works at Lowes in Miami Beach and his mom with an elder care group.
Brutus, a Miami Central High graduate, wants to do more. Cycle 62 miles in a race in Broward in February. Compete in the 2016 Summer Paralympics. Volunteer at an animal shelter. Show other kids nothing is impossible.
They need to see that no matter what happens, no matter your disability, you can still be normal. You can still accomplish everything you set out to accomplish before, Brutus said.
He has a philosophical approach to life: Happiness comes from within, and the only difference between humans and animals is the ability to reason.
Just because I only have one arm, it doesnt make me less human.