Walter Jr. Flies High as Cutest Pet

August 2023
Written By: 
Angela Robertson
Photographs by: 
courtesy of Maggie & Chris Rosafort

Airport therapy volunteer is top dog in annual contest

Walter Jr. poses with his parents, Maggie and Chris Rosafort. The English Black Lab is a dutiful dog  who volunteers at the airport. He also likes camping. And naps.

Our annual Cutest Pet Contest, sponsored by Camp Bow Wow, showcases dozens of adorable animals along the Grand Strand, and this year was no exception. Hundreds of votes were cast, some from as far away as Poland and Australia. And the winner is … Walter Jr., the dapper English Black Lab!

This dark, handsome fellow was photographed donning a stylish bow tie, befitting his distinguished British forebears, of course, all the while sporting a happy, toothsome grin. 

Along with the title of  "Cutest Pet," Walter Jr. received a gift basket from Treat Your Pet, an upscale pet boutique and dog grooming salon in Myrtle Beach's Grande Dunes.

Pet Parents Maggie and Chris Rosafort couldn’t be prouder of their two-year old, and with good reason: Walter Jr. is a certified therapy dog and Pet Smart obedience school graduate who volunteers shifts at Myrtle Beach International Airport (MYR). 

“We cause a traffic jam at TSA,” jokes Chris, who’s a captain with Horry County Fire Rescue.  An ambassador of sorts, Walter Jr. gets lots of affection and attention from air travelers, often allaying the fears of first-time flyers.

Maggie and Chris recall that at MYR, a young girl was crying, afraid of taking her first flight. “Walter will get down to a kid’s level,” they explain. After being around the Lab, petting him, and hearing all about him, “she went to her parents and told them they needed to get a ticket for Walter,”  Chris laughs. “He loves to meet other people and pets.”

The Rosaforts got Walter from Rocky Flats Kennels in Tennessee. “They have a strict policy about who gets their dogs,” Chris says. Potential buyers fill out an application, and if approved, must come and visit in a sort of Open House. The owner, then, matches the pup with the parents, rather than the other way around.

Like most Labs, Walter loves the water, especially the ocean, and can often be found in his leisure time hanging around Myrtle Beach State Park in the evenings. 

“If I throw a ball (on land) for him, he may bring it back a time or two, but if I throw a retriever toy for him in the ocean, he will play until he nearly passes out,” Chris laughs.

Walter Jr. is proud of his work as a therapy dog and being recognized as a Good Citizen. Clearly, he can also rock an outfit.

Walter’s other favorite pastimes include hiking and camping. “He loves the Upstate, the mountain creeks…” 

At home, Walter, or “the distinguished gentleman,” as Maggie, who works as a loan officer for South Atlantic Bank, calls him, enjoys walks. “Everyone around knows him. People might not know us, but they know Walter. A five-minute walk can turn into an hour.”

“He’s a gentle giant,” she says. “He’s 100 pounds; he takes over your whole bed.”  On breaks from his work at the airport, Walter is frequently rewarded with “pup cups,” from Starbucks and Chick-fil-A. Another favorite food is peanut butter.

“It’s all about Walter being comfortable and happy,” Maggie says.

The jolly English Lab also has a competitive streak, having won a costume contest dressed as a dragon in a festival event held in nearby Tabor City, N.C. 

“Walter is only two and he’s done a lot,” Chris says.