Despite Walter’s rough start that included a long and arduous treatment process for heartworm and allergies to a lot of calming medications, this handsome two-year-old American Staffordshire Terrier is now living like a prince with his queen, another bully, in Lawrenceville, frolicking in the snow, eating duck feet, cuddling on a dog bed in every room, and snoring on his baby blanket.
Recently, he also stepped in front of my lens and into the coveted role of calendar cover model after earning the most votes during the 2022 Biggies Bullies pet calendar contest held this past winter, helping raise money for pit bull-type dogs in Pittsburgh and awareness for responsible pet ownership, positive force-free training, and the importance of spaying and neutering.
“Walter is a quarantine doggo! He joined our family on May 7, 2020,” says his mom Anna. “We saw Walter (then Pup-Pup) on FurKid Rescue’s Instagram and fell in love! He was living in a horrible situation: abandoned by his family in Tennessee [and] left chained up in their backyard. He had to eat garbage to survive before he was rescued and taken to Pittsburgh.”
“Walter was one of several names we had in mind. It comes from Walter Benjamin, a 20th-century philosopher,” shares Anna. “He just looked like a Walter! And we hated the name he came with.”
Anna warned me that despite making huge strides working with a behaviorist, Water remains extremely shy and nervous while meeting new people and often freezes up and makes what she described as “a weird Chewbacca noise” if his anxiety builds high enough. After a slow introduction that included lots of treats, however, Walter became comfortable and confident, showing off his friendly, playful side at Robin Hill Park.
Late spring rains gifted us the beauty of colorful flowers blooming in the park’s Fleur de Lune Garden, a highlight of this Moon Township location, and throughout the flower beds and containers in front of the Robin Hill Carriage House.
“Walter is incredibly sweet and affectionate once he feels comfortable. He really likes a steady stream of conversation and praise–it helps put him at ease,” explains Anna, adding, “He’s fun to talk to.”
A quieter location with few distractions that evening made it easy for Walter to be the most perfect pittie as he posed and played among the flowers and stunning architecture of its Georgian-style home.
One of the things I knew I wanted to capture in his portraits was Walter’s super silly and funny personality that Anna and her husband have come to know and love.
“He has a huge smile, deep snores, and loves to snuggle with humans and dogs alike. It’s been a joy to watch him open up and get comfortable with us. He’s also extremely handsome!”
See which portrait of Walter will grace the cover of the 2022 Biggies Bullies pet calendar when calendars are made available in mid-September. (I have a feeling I’m going to have my work cut out for me in choosing the one!)
Are you envisioning capturing your dog’s portraits among the beautiful flowers at Robin Hill Park? If so, let’s connect and get you on the calendar for a date when the gardens are in full bloom! Choose your adventure below to begin.
Did you enjoy this post? Great, there’s more coming your way because it’s part of a photography blog circle featuring pet photographers from all over the world! To see more colorful content for our weekly theme, “Blooms Everywhere,” check out Elaine Tweedy of I Got the Shot Photography, admiring summer blooms in the Endless Mountains of Northeastern PA. Continue to click the link at the end of each post in the blog circle until you eventually find your way back here. If you get lost along the way, just look for the trail of dog hair. I won’t be far off…