Walter the Elderbull

October 4, 2012  

Rescued at age 10, this senior pit bull is now working as a therapy dog

By Lynn Ready, originally posted on April 9, 2012

You may remember Walter’s story of how he came to live with us in the summer of 2011. Well, over the past few months, Walter has had some wonderful new experiences and shown what a pit bull can be when placed in a loving environment and treated as part of the family. These include gaining some elderly fans at an assisted-living facility in Pittsburgh and being the star at a Christmas party for special needs kids in Ohio, as well as being my assistant during a presentation on homeless pets.

I thought it would be a good idea to get Walter certified as a therapy dog through Therapy Dogs International for two reasons: 1) He thrives on attention, so I knew it would be good for him to be in situations where he would get just that; 2) Probably most important, I feel that Walter can be an ambassador for his breed and, in the long run, help save lives.

When I was asked if I could bring Walter to Steubenville’s annual Rotary Club Christmas party for the area’s special needs students, I didn’t hesitate to say yes. This was to be Walter’s very first job as a certified therapy dog.

It wasn’t your typical, low key, first event for a therapy dog because over 100 people would be attending. But I couldn’t say no for one reason in particular: His rescuer, an amazing humane officer who had found him on someone’s porch last summer, would be present at the event. This wonderful lady took care of him, as did the shelter manager and a very special person who is on the board of directors. This was the woman that asked us to attend. Everyone wanted to see Walter after several months of living in his new home, rescued, safe and loved.

We had a great time at the event, and Walter was a complete gentleman. He allowed many children to pet him, even several at a time.

Donna, who helped organize the event, said of his visit, “We were so pleased to have Walter with us this year at the Rotary Christmas party for special needs children.
He is a wonderful ambassador for the pit bull as a breed and also for senior dogs in general.”

He was so kind, sweet, loving and patient with all the kids surrounding him and petting him all at the same time! It’s just like he’s saying, “Take all the love from me you need today!” It may sound corny, but it’s true. I hope he continues to bring his joy to people for many years to come!

When we left, I was so proud of my sweet dog. It is really an amazing thing when you stop to think about his story. Walter proved many things that day. First and foremost, he proved that you can rescue an old shelter dog, namely an old “pit bull,” and have an amazingly loving and gentle dog. Secondly, he showed us that you can teach an old dog new tricks, even one as old as 10 years.

We had a great time doing that special holiday party, but we also have started making regular visits to another local facility. Walter made his first visit to Country Meadows Assisted Living facility in January 2012. The residents there are in various stages of assistance, and we visit two separate buildings.

The second group we see is a group of about 14 women, all seated around an oval-shaped table, some in wheelchairs. When we enter the room, they all get excited, and they each want the chance to pet Walter. He goes from person to person, sitting nicely next to their seat while they stroke his head or neck.

One other special visit we made was to do a presentation for Best Friends Animal Society. As an education ambassador, I speak to children and adults about helping homeless pets. We recently made a visit to a local library, where we had a small group of adults. While I gave the presentation, Walter made his rounds by visiting each person for several minutes, sitting next to them, putting his head in their laps at times, and once in a while, pleading for a belly rub.

It was almost as if he knew and understood what his purpose was while we were there. He eventually got tired and took a nap on his dog bed in the front, where we were graced with his ever so faint snoring.

As for our future plans, Walter and I will continue to visit Country Meadows once or twice a month. We will also continue to do presentations for Best Friends on an as needed basis. Our short-term goals are to show people the potential and the loving nature of pit bulls and to change the minds of those who have a negative opinion of them. Our long-term goal is to ensure that when we are visiting shelters or rescue organizations, potential adopters will not look past the breed, but instead seek them out.

I know that a lot of people would consider adopting a pit bull if it were a puppy, and that’s great, but I want people to know that adopting a senior can be a wonderful experience, too. If nothing else, we hope that we can show people that each and every dog, regardless of breed, appearance, age, color, gender, etc., should be treated as an individual. The goal is always the same: save lives.

If you aren’t already friends with Walter on Facebook, you can join him online here!

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14 Responses to “Walter the Elderbull”
  1. Arleen J Rutten says:

    My heart sings. ♥ 

  2. woofslc says:

    I love Walter and his mama!

  3. Stories such as this makes me fall deeper in love with this bully breed!

  4. ReneeMKeller says:

    Walter makes my heart melt!!!

  5. ae4livef says:

    Way to go Walter!  You touch many hearts in the therapy work that you do, a special pibble!  Thank you to walter’s parents for rescue and a wonderful Elderbull life!

  6. Matt.S says:

    Walter is beautiful! what a great ambassador! Thank you for giving Walter the home and stability he needs to represent elderbulls so well.

  7. DianaJones says:

    I can’t tell you how much the elders appreciate the chance to feel the fur and heartbeat of an animal under their hands. They tell me how much it reminds them of home, and that it makes “the home” go away for a few minutes.  What Walter does is a miracle moment for so many people. And he knows it. Way to go you guys, you are blessed to do this together. Old therapy dogs rock!