Things were business as usual when a woman showed up at a shelter to pick up a new foster dog.
At the shelter, she noticed a very tiny dog that seemed to look a bit different than the other dogs.
She knew she had to ask about him, but she never could have guessed what would happen next.
Keep reading to find out!
A Mystery Illness
The shelter staff told the woman, who’s name was Gabi, that they really didn’t know much about this dog.
His name was Walter, and he was abnormally small for his age.
He also seemed to have some other congenital abnormalities.
But, that’s all they could figure out. He even had the vets stumped.
Not one to turn a blind eye, Gabi decided to take Walter in as a foster dog.
He was a mystery boy, but Gabi was determined to figure out what was going on.
A Helping Hand
Gabi quickly grew close to Walter, as he was very loving despite clearly not feeling well.
They went to multiple vets, but no one could seem to figure out what was going on with him.
But then, they found someone who thought they knew.
The vet believed Walter had Mucopolysaccharidosis, or MPS, a condition very rarely seen in dogs.
MPS occurs as a result of an enzyme deficiency
MPS has many symptoms including clouded eyes, slowed growth, degeneration in the muscles and bones, spinal compression, and increased susceptibility to heart and liver disease.
Unfortunately, most individuals diagnosed with MPS also experience a significantly shortened lifespan.
Gabi was very anxious that this was what Walter had, but they would need to wait for test results to come back to know for sure.
When Walter’s tests came back positive, Gabi was devastated.
But, she knew exactly what her next step for this foster dog was.
“I was crushed,” Gabi Shared. “When I realized he might not live that long, I knew that he needed to stay with me.”
Just like that, Gabi went from Walter’s foster mama to his forever human.
Gabi didn’t know how much time Walter would have left, but she knew she was going to make it all count!
Living in the Moment
Gabi was ready to meet all of Walter’s needs, but she couldn’t get her mind off one thing.
“This was all new for me,” Gabi said. “And I kept focusing on the end outcome.”
But then one day, Gabi had an epiphany while she watched Walter outside.
She realized how much Walter enjoyed waking up every morning, watching people outside, laying in the sun and the grass and leaves.
“He probably knew something was going on,” Gabi said. “But, he still enjoyed life to the fullest!”
So, taking a page out of Walter’s book, Gabi was able to live in the moment and enjoy every second she had with Walter without worrying too much about the future.
While Walter needed round the clock care, and sometimes even stayed with the vet while Gabi was working, life was still good.
Gabi also started sharing Walter’s story with people online.
Through this, Walter and Gabi were able to bring awareness to MPS in dogs.
Walter did such a great job of advocating for MPS dogs and educating the world about his condition.
But, his greatest pleasure was still in the little things.
Walter loved green beans and french bread, and Gabi made sure there was plenty of both!
He never missed an opportunity to try out a new soft surface any time he saw a new blanket or pillow.
“He mostly just loved being right next to me, cuddled up,” Gabi said.
Gabi and Walter took every chance they could get to soak up the sun and enjoy each moment they had together.
A Bittersweet Goodbye
Sadly, Gabi did eventually have to say goodbye to Walter.
He passed in Gabi’s arms after two years of bliss with his favorite human.
Gabi was heartbroken, but she knew that she and Walter had made the best of the time they had together.
Walter had taught Gabi so much, she knew now that she wanted to continue putting that knowledge to use.
“In the end, after Walter passed, I immediately thought ‘I would do this again,’” Gabi said.
And that’s exactly what Gabi did!
She knew there were other dogs with MPS out there, and she wanted to help them too.
Keeping Up the Good Fight
Since Walter passed, Gabi has adopted two other dogs with MPS.
Their names were Winslow and Benji.
Gabi also knew that she wouldn’t have too many years with either Winslow or Benji, but she never let that stop her.
“I want to help these dogs with this issue,” Gabi said. “It feels like my purpose. It’s heartbreaking, but it’s 100% worth it.”
Gabi has also continued to educate people online through Walter, Winslow, and Benji’s stories.
Even though they aren’t physically with her anymore, they live on in Gabi’s heart through her unwavering support of all dogs with MPS.
In Loving Memory
Every pet’s time on earth is invaluable, no matter how long or short their stay is.
Gabi proved that through her unforgettable journeys with Walter, Winslow and Benji.
All three pups have left a lasting mark, not only on her, but on the lives they each touched through their stories.
“People just fell in love with Walter, writing to me how much he brightened their days,” Gabi said.
Not only did Walter bring joy to others, he helped vets learn so much more about MPS than they previously knew.
“I wish Walter knew how much he did for animals and people,” Gabi said.
Walter’s life wasn’t easy, but it was clear to Gabi that he enjoyed every moment of it.
Click here to follow Gabi on Instagram and learn more about Walter and other dogs like him with MPS.