Wallace booth graphic
Photo by Michael Johnson/VIN
This is what it has come to: I’m just the guy behind the leash.
It all started because I was curious at the trade shows when I would see a dog or sometimes a cat. I thought, man I wish I had a dog that would be able to come with me. I missed the companionship I would get at home. Then I met Wallace. He is a rescue from the Chicago area and was 6 months old when he came home. My family had recently lost another corgi, a dog that I thought was the second greatest dog I have ever owned. Turns out this little guy has become the best dog I have ever owned for many reasons.
I asked my friends who brought their dogs to the conferences for the pros and cons, talked to organizers of the shows about what hurdles we would need to jump through. With his leg size, I was hoping they were not high hurdles or we were in trouble.
His first meeting was at the Veterinary Cancer Society back in October of 2014. It was in our town and I figured if he completely failed, he just wouldn’t come the next day. It turned out to be “like a duck takes to water” …well, he had found his place in the world. Wallace loves people. He sat on the table next to the printer that people can use (it’s across from the food table, if truth be told). When attendees would come to print something, he was more than eager to walk over, get some scratches, lick the paper they were trying to print, and mostly hope they would give him something off the amazing buffet of table scraps not far from his nose.
The next big hurdle was taking him on an airplane. He had proven fine locally but how would he do on a plane, in another city, in a strange room at night? We embarked on a trip to the Veterinary Information Network (VIN) office in Davis, California, in November 2014. I was quite unsure how this phase of the ultimate take your dog to work adventure would go. We were both a bit nervous: all I could think about was if he going to pitch a fit, and I am sure for him it was, “Why am I in this bag and not on your lap?” He really did great! He still does. We have our own routine getting on board and getting comfortable. Nowadays he mostly just sleeps waiting for the next leg or cab ride or whatever.
Wallace window woofie
Conference attendees get prizes for following the Wallace "Woofie" tags. Photo by Michael Johnson/VIN
Having a friend to travel with is great. It gives me responsibility beyond myself and it forced me to rethink how my routines were going.
At the time he arrived I was really into getting back into shape, so he and I started going for walks at first, and then I tried him out running with me. We ran for about 3 years together, even did a few 5k runs before my body kind of slowed us down. His best time is .01 seconds faster than mine because the little stinker, who was wearing a running bib, decided at the last minute to sprint out ahead to the finish line.
We turned a big corner in the Take Your Dog to Work Day marathon when he became the unofficial face of VIN on the road. It was likely in 2016 when it really took off and he cemented himself into the role. He’s in our graphics at the trade shows and we made a plush animal of him. Nowadays attendees would rather visit with him than any of us, and I can’t blame them.
He normally travels with me about 10 to 12 times a year. I would have to say he has one of the greatest jobs on the planet, but what is it like to bring him along, what does it do for each of us?
One of my favorite stories about him and the role he fell into was when we were at a show, a young resident was getting ready to give her first talk at a veterinary conference. We had seen her pacing about practicing all morning. About 20 minutes prior to her talk she walked towards us, and Wallace instinctively just walked out to her and sat down and snuggled with her for 10 minutes. We never said anything to each other, and I could just tell that he was just what she needed.
He really has taken to the role of ambassador of the short legs for VIN; he has his own social media page on Instagram, wallace_corgi so you can follow him if you like.
If you have the chance and the means to rescue a furry friend, and even better have a workplace you can bring them to, I highly recommend it. He has been a lifesaver and life changer, a really good friend.
Wallace with plush Wallace
My plushie looks just like me! Sorry, it's hard to fit all of the ears in a photo when you're a Corgi. Photo by Michael Johnson/VIN
Going to Work with CorgDad
I go with my CorgDad to trade shows held at veterinary conferences so I can say Woof! - that’s hi in case you were wondering - to the veterinarians and their staff who are there. I also have lots of fuuriends that belong to other people who work at the shows. Lots of people know me well enough to come searching for me. I travel for work more than most humans do! I don’t mean to brag but I have become the second most recognized face at VIN other than the president of the company.
Bold words, ranking a corgi just a step below Dr. Paul Pion, the cardiologist who discovered that cats need taurine to prevent heart disease. Oh, he’s also president of VIN. But it’s true! He’s a popular guy and knows a lot of people, but they’re not in a rush to run over and rub his belly. I don’t think anyone would want to rub his belly as much as they want to rub mine. Whenever I go to a trade show, I get tons of belly rubs and petting. People want to take Woofies (selfies) of us! I love people and my rugged good looks and wonderful temperament help people come to talk to us. It can be a bit embarrassing somedays as CorgDad and I end up in the same VIN shirt. I am always in my fancy red polo, like he doesn’t know that, and he wears the same outfit anyway. The nerve of him!
Veterinarians away from home desperately need a dog fix because they miss their dogs (who knew - right!) or the endorphin rush they get from petting, kissing, or rolling around with a dog. I’m really good at providing that kind of thing – I love everyone, people and dogs alike! Don’t tell my roommate at home, but I also have a girlfriend on the road. Her name is Lily and I like her a lot, but she tries to take all my toys.
Wallace and Michael
Wallace and Michael hard at work. Photo by VIN.
One of my favorite things is when people come to visit me at the booth or VIN lounge as we like to call them. Some of them know me really well and bring me a treat, so I give them extra kisses.
CorgDad loves bringing me to work. It makes us closer than ever. He’s my best friend and nothing is better than being with him. When he’s not on the road, he works at home, so most of my life has been a lot like Take your Dog to Work Day. Mom misses me when I’m gone with him – maybe more than she misses him? - but she knows how much I like working at trade shows so she doesn’t really mind. She’s always so happy when we come home and I tell her all about where we were, friends we saw, and the people we met, even though I’m tired from working so hard. I’ve been to Orlando, Las Vegas, Dallas, Fort Worth, Chicago, Minneapolis, New York, Charlotte, Atlanta, Seattle, Denver, and Indianapolis, and that’s not even all of the places. I love hotels and although I try hard not to leave any fur in their rooms, sometimes I can’t help it. Even though a lot of dogs get to go to the office with their people every day, I get to go to faraway places that I would otherwise not get to see. I love traveling and I’m really good at it. I’m perfectly well behaved and never have accidents. That’s important for a working dog! I know I’m part of the herding group and not the working group, but I love working even though I don’t herd. Well…. maybe I herd Paul over to the couch for some scritchies and a treat.
June 26, 2020
VIN News Service commentaries are opinion pieces presenting insights, personal experiences and/or perspectives on topical issues by members of the veterinary community. To submit a commentary for consideration, email firstname.lastname@example.org.