True Tails of Willy and James
December 9, 2021
William Howard Taft and James Madison, the official canine ambassadors of the Virginia Tech College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, weren’t always presidents.
Abandoned at an east Tulsa taco stand when he was a puppy, James (then known as Rocco) was a tiny, scruffy street dog when Laura Belmonte, dean of the college, and her wife, Susie, fostered him. Part Chihuahua, part terrier, part hellion, he instantly stole their hearts — and socks and towels and bathmats and anything else that caught his fancy — and became a foster fail.
A few weeks later, a fortuitous call from a local pet store brought Wally into the mix. A purebred Westie, he had been boarded there for two years. The staff all loved him, but knew he deserved a better life.
After persuading his first mom to surrender him, the co-owner contacted the rescue group for whom Susie and Laura volunteered. His heartbreaking story immediately touched their hearts.
Laura and Susie’s first Westie, Truman, had died a few weeks earlier, his life sadly shortened by spending his first years in horrible circumstances as a stud dog in a puppy mill. Susie and Laura really wanted another Westie, and after discovering Wally and Rocco were already pals in doggie day care, they decided it was fate.
Determined to keep things presidential, Laura and Susie christened the pups James Madison and William Howard Taft. Little did they know that the pups would rise from such humble circumstances to the glories and fame of representing such an august college.
Other Adventures of Willy and James