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From the Shelter to the Championship Circle

By Langley Cornwell

When I read about a shelter dog that finds a loving forever home, it warms my heart. When I read about a shelter dog that finds a loving forever home and goes on to make it in the big leagues, I stand up and cheer, warm heart and all. The story of Wallace will make you feel the same way.  

Nobody is sure about the first part of Wallace’s life. He was a wandering stray when some good Samaritans found him and took him to the Humane Society. Being an overly energetic, high-drive dog, Wallace had a real struggle; he couldn’t acclimate to the boredom of kennel life. The animal shelter staff was losing faith in this ‘impossible’ pup. The longer Wallace lived at the shelter, the worse his behavior became. His future didn’t look bright.

That’s when Roo Yori and his wife Clara learned about Wallace. With the help of other animal lovers and advocates, the Yori’s pulled this athletic dog out of the shelter environment on August 1, 2005.

Recognizing that Wallace was a driven working dog, Yori knew he needed to give the dog something to focus his energy on. An athlete himself, Yori wanted to teach Wallace the skills and provide him a positive outlet to channel his focus and determination – so he started training Wallace to become a flying disc dog.

Wallace was a quick learner, and it seemed he had an innate talent for the sport. It didn’t take Roo Yori and Wallace long to enter disc dog competitions. Wallace was pulled from an animal shelter in 2005 and that same year went on to place second in the Skyhoundz Open Qualifier - Pairs Freestyle. There he qualified for the Skyhoundz World Finals, and went on to place second there as well.

His list of accomplishments is long. Since Wallace was rescued, he’s gone on to compete all over the world and won several World Championship titles. Along the way, Wallace has become a celebrity. He’s been featured in countless magazines, newspapers, blogs and on television. In fact, Wallace’s smiling face has appeared nationally on Animal Planet, ABC and ESPN2, and he’s been highlighted in numerous local media outlets. 

But for Wallace and Roo Yori, it’s about more than winning. Wallace is an ambassador for his breed and for shelter dogs everywhere. He is an example of what can happen when a caring person adopts a dog and gives him what every dog wants: love, companionship and a chance to reach his potential. The Yoris believe that every competition and appearance is an opportunity to show the world what dogs like Wallace are capable of accomplishing when someone gives them a break.

According to the ASPCA, roughly 5 million to 7 million companion animals enter shelters nationwide every year. And if this matters to you, twenty-five percent of dogs in local shelters are purebred. The next time you plan on adding a pet to your household, consider a visit to your local animal shelter. A shelter animal may be waiting just for you!

Appropriately, Roo Yori’s life motto is: Talk less. Do more. That’s a good reminder for us all.

Photos by Joshua Grenell

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