Walter: Instagram Famous!
How long have you had Walter & where did you get him?
We picked Walter up when he was ten weeks old. I contacted the National Borzoi Rescue Foundation and they gave me the information of a breeder in Washington that had an accidental breeding. The breeder was not aware that he had vision problems when she sent him to us. There had been no health issues with her dogs, so the cause of why he has cataracts is unknown.
Tell us about Walter!
Walter is pretty picky, so we rely on an assortment of treats. His favorite are the Lamb & Apple WellBars. Walter is spoiled rotten with toys. His favorite toy is a lunge whip with a plastic bag tied to the end. We use this in our yard where he is able to hear the crinkle of the bag and chase it. Borzois commonly compete in lure coursing, which is chasing after a lure. They will often practice this with a lunge whip or flirt pole to get them to follow the bait. His favorite inside toy is a stuffed cow that rattles and crinkles like a water bottle. Toys that make noises are his favorite and help him be able to chase after them. Walter has come to work with me at the clinic everyday since he was ten weeks old. It has been great socialization for him. He goes out for playtime with his friends and then naps the day away in the office. Despite being blind, he can chase and fetch fairly well. We play a modified version where we throw the ball at the ground, so he can follow the bouncing noises.
What’s special about Walter?
Walter’s ears are very unique to him. They will always give away his current mood. They lay flat when he is relaxed, stand up when he is curious, and point straight forward when he is feeling devious. When he comes running from another room with his ears pointing straight, we know he just did something bad!
How has Walter changed your life?
Walter has quickly enveloped our lives since we got him. He has redefined my expectations of a “special needs” dog. I am constantly amazed by how comfortable he is and quickly he adapts to his surroundings. My husband and I went to a “dining in the dark” restaurant in London on our honeymoon and it gave us a new found gratitude for vision. I am astonished to see my blind dog conquer the world with no vision and no understanding of why. I am inspired by my vision-impaired dog.
A lot of people have a negative connotation that surrounds the idea of a vision-impaired dog. A video of his playing at my work went viral on several websites when he was a few months old. The video shows him bouncing back and forth, trying to keep up with the other dogs but not sure which way to go. I didn’t realize his video went viral until someone told me it was on Reddit’s front page. Unfortunately, it was removed shortly thereafter because it was “sad content.” I have seen a lot of comments on his videos where people feel bad for him. I don’t think people understand how capable Walter is though. Despite not seeing the world, he still enjoys it and brings joy to his daily routine. He still stirs up trouble around the house and gets into things like a puppy should. Walter developed cataracts when the rest of his litter was learning to see, so impaired vision is all he has ever known.
Coco: Award winning kisser & yoga master
Tell us about Coco & where did you get her?
Coco is an American Bulldog. Alapaha Blue Blood bulldog to be exact. There were only 350 dogs of her kind at that time... she just turned 10 in July. I didn’t even know what breed that was until she was given to me by her previous owners. She was 6 months old and only 30 lbs when I acquired her. She came from a family in Puerto Rico who couldn’t keep her because she did not get along with their other dog. They bought her from Georgia (apparently that’s where the breed came from) and they flew her to Puerto Rico. I was living there at the time and was so lucky that they asked me if I knew anyone who would be interested in their beautiful girl. They called her Miss Universe. And now she’s my universe.
Tell us about Coco!
Coco begs when we’re eating. She’s got those expressive puppy eyes that is hard to resist. She loves... oh gosh, where do I start? She’s not vegetarian, that’s for sure. She loves hard boiled eggs, broccoli, and egg rolls (when they fall to the ground). Oh, and rice and peanut butter! She’s got to my bag of potato chips as well. Her favorite toy is a squirrel - a fake stuffed squirrel. And it’s old, but she always goes for that plain, ugly thing. We play hide and seek around the house. I’ll have a treat in hand and she’ll sit and wait to look for me until I yell, “Where’s Mommy?”
She used to love hiking in the rainforest of Puerto Rico. Since we’ve moved to Florida, she loves the dog beach of course, but her favorite place to go is Grove Roots and Downtown Winter Haven’s Saturday morning market. Grove Roots because people pay her attention. Downtown WH because she gets to eat popcorn from the ground next to the people that sell it. I literally have to pull her back to the car whenever we go to these places. People make fun of us.
I teach yoga at Inside Out Yoga in Winter Haven and sometimes I bring her to class. She has got Savanna (The relaxation part in the end) to a tee! She sometimes snores, but it adds peace to those around her helping them relax and sense her peaceful vibe.
She has won several dog contests including best kisser (2 years in a row!) and musical sit. She knows several tricks such as sit, shake, roll over, nap, speak and open book (lays on her back). Her big lips fly like dumbo during a car ride. It’s hilarious!
What’s special about Coco?
Coco is like my child. She is well behaved. All pet owners says their dog is smart, but really, Coco took only 3 days out of 5 in boot camp training. She doesn’t need a leash to walk. She is popular with my friends through Snapchat because they love seeing her bark and terrorize the mailman. Daily.
How has she changed your life?
She has changed my life and those around her so much. She brings joy and love wherever she goes. She gets a lot of attention because she looks different and has a calm demeanor about her. You know that quote, “be the person your dog thinks you are.” Yeah, she reminds me to be a good person. To live in the moment, to enjoy a good nap. To be grateful for little things and to love unconditionally.
I am divorced and my ex and I had her for years. When we split up, I told him to get anything, but I’m keeping Coco. That’s all I wanted and I was willing to fight for her. Luckily it didn’t have to turn out that way, but that’s how much I love her. Her previous owners still check up on her and they are so happy she is spoiled rotten and taken care of. I am so blessed to have her in my life.
Rudy: Marketing guru & security specialist
Tell us about Rudy!
Rudy is from a pet store at the Lakeland Mall back in 2010. He is a registered, full-blooded Pomeranian. Rudy’s favorite thing to do is to spend time with me. Everywhere I go, he goes. He does love coming to the store, G’s Vintage Market, where I have just under 9000 sq ft for him to explore. Everyday he finds a different spot to lay in. Most of the time, he’s sound asleep laying on the floor. It’s cute when a customer walks by and gets startled when they learn he’s a real dog. He opens his eyes and it surprises people. I always kid the people and tell them that the security guard is asleep again! Others try not to wake up him when they pass by, but I tell them not to worry, he’s a highly-trained security guard and he’s scanning you right now!
What are Rudy’s special skills?
Rudy is best at marketing. People love him. I have regular customers that come in and don’t even say hi to me, they just ask where Rudy is. Rudy doesn’t live at the store, but he’s there pretty much everyday. In fact, it’s so routine that I don’t even need a leash when I park the truck. Rudy knows what to do and where to go and he does love it here. Sometimes you’ll see posts about his newly discovered sleeping spots on the G Vintage Market Facebook page, customers try to figure out where he’s at. He also gets up and greets some people, he’s very friendly, he has lots of friends that come to the store. Rudy likes to hang out with me even when I’m working out in my gym. He gets mad when I don’t take him. When I go to the grocery store, I leave him at home and he just barks and cries at the door for me.
His favorite snack is a piece of lunch meat off my sandwich. It’s probably not good for him, but he loves it. The funny thing he likes is yogurt, I think it’s funny. Whenever I’m eating it, I give him some without the fruit and he loves it. He doesn’t really play with toys, he has them, but he takes them places and leaves them there. He’s not your typical dog. He’ll chase after a ball but he won’t bring it back, which is really funny. But Rudy’s all time favorite treat is ice cream. And it’s the only way to get him to take his medicine. Rudy was diagnosed with congestive heart failure which requires him to be on medications for the rest of his life. The ice cream makes the medicine a little easier to go down. I’m happy about that.
How has he changed your life?
Being single, and with the kids gone, pets give a lot of meaning to people. It’s just like having a kid, it gives you a reason to get up in the morning and to do things. A lot of the times, I’m here at the shop by myself, driving to and from, and he’s always right there with me. I even work a part-time job in the evenings and I bring Rudy with me. We drive a big John Deere tractor through the groves and I’ve placed a little carpet by the console inside just for him. He loves it.
My parents were animal lovers, all of my kids are animal lovers and so now it’s nice to see that when we all get together.
Visit Rudy at G’s Vintage Market
113 E Park Ave