Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Passing the Torch Mr. Wilson, a Canine Grief Counselor, Is Retiring, but He's Not Shy

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Passing the Torch Mr. Wilson, a Canine Grief Counselor, Is Retiring, but He's Not Shy

Article excerpt

When Deb Chebatoris adopted a miniature schnauzer 13 years ago, she got more than she bargained for. She was simply looking for a pet, but she ended up with a business partner.

Mr. Wilson was 3 years old when Ms. Chebatoris adopted him in May 2005. Just four months earlier, she had started a new business, Chartiers Custom Pet Cremation in Bridgeville. Because he had been abandoned in an apartment complex with four other dogs, she didn't want to leave him home alone when she went to work. Besides, she was happy to have his company.

So, Mr. Wilson went to work every day. The plan was for him to hang out in the back. But when people spotted the cute little white dog, most wanted to pet and hug him, and he enjoyed the attention and kindness of strangers.

Then the personable dog took his "job" to another level.

"He is a wonderful, empathetic dog," Ms. Chebatoris said. "He can go up to people and decide what they need" in the way of comfort. Helping to ease the sorrow of people whose pets had died, Mr. Wilson "offered the unspoken understanding and unconditional love only an animal can offer," she said.

Now after nearly 13 years on the job, Mr. Wilson is ready to retire.

"He has been my business partner from the beginning, so he has to have a retirement party," Ms. Chebatoris said.

The party, which is free, will be from 3-5 p.m. Sunday at LaBella Bean Coffee House & Eatery, 609 Washington Ave. No. 2, Bridgeville (15017).

"He retires on his last day of being 15 years old and will celebrate his 16th birthday quietly on Jan. 22," Ms. Chebatoris said. "For his age he's in really great shape."

His vision and hearing are OK, and he doesn't have any apparent joint pain.

"He is eating and he is happy, but he has been losing muscle mass and has lost several pounds," Ms. Chebatoris said.

So she thinks it's time for him to retire and relax. …

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