In the early moments of Valentine's Day morning, a very special Miniature Pinscher named Walter passed away in the arms of his loving adoptive mother. Gabi Gutierrez is one of the founders of the non-profit organization, Angels for Animals Rescue
Gabi first met Walter in February of 2014 when he was just 10-months old, surrendered to a shelter by his first family. In that moment she knew that the little dog was unique in more than just his appearance, but she could not have predicted the incredible journey that his life would inspire.
Walter suffered from a rare genetic condition known as Mucopolysaccharidosis VI ( MPS VI). Since both parents must be carriers of the uncommon gene that causes the disease, it is believed that Walter's mom and dad were closely related. The metabolic disorder causes severe muscle atrophy, dwarfism, bone disease, facial deformities, degenerative joint disease, enlarged liver, and eye cloudiness.
Before he was turned over at the age of 10 months, Walter was undernourished and had received no care or treatment for his special condition. Without therapy, Walter's deformities worsened and he could barely walk. All that changed when Gabi took him in. With her in his life, Walter began to heal and thrive. Soon he was not just walking, he was running
. Walter's kind spirit and goofy personality captured the heart of all who met him, and he became the unofficial mascot of the Angels for Animals Rescue
Although his life was far too short, Walter was able to inspire thousands through his Facebook page
and YouTube channel
. When he passed, Gabi decided to honor his memory with a cross-country trip. There were so many places she wished Walter could have seen while he was alive, so she decided to bring a piece of him along. Gabi carried Walter's favorite toy - a stuffed Peep, complete with Superman cape - to each location on her trip.
She visited beautiful Walnut Canyon National Monument---a perfect place to remember Walter, who Gabi always referred to as her "Little Walnut".
Gabi then took Walter's SuperPeep to visit the folks at Clark's K9 Crew
in Albuquerque, NM.
After a brief visit to see family in Oklahoma, it was off to The Big Easy!
While out at dinner tonight it finally hit me ..... I'll never get to kiss Walters bautiful little face or whisper I love you to him as he falls asleep. I miss him more than ever. ❤️Posted by All About Walter on Wednesday, February 17, 2016
Wrapping up her emotional time in New Orleans, Gabi headed to Georgia next.
The healing road trip culminated with a visit to a friend in Florida who has also lost a dog to an MPS disorder. Gabi had forged an online bond with her based on their shared experiences and the fact that they both had to say goodbye to beloved friends far too soon.
If you would like to donate to Angels for Animals Rescue - and help other dogs like Walter - you can do so here
Featured Image via All About Walter/Facebook