Lori and Bill Walton are known throughout San Diego; Lori as a community leader and philanthropist and Bill as a Hall of Fame basketball player. They both love our community very much; the city, its people and its pets. a pet’s life magazine sat with them at their lovely home near Balboa Park and got to meet them, their two lovely and playful dogs and their cat, Charcoal.

What pets do you currently own and how did they come to join your family?

Both Loma and Shasta are part golden retriever and part black lab. We got them when they were 8 weeks old and trained them for 2 years to be part of a service dog program. When Loma graduated, she was placed with a quadriplegic in Huntington Beach where she worked for eight years. When she retired from service, they were kind enough to let us have her back. Shasta became a breeder for her program and after having 40 puppies that all entered the service dog program, Shasta also retired. She also came back to live with us. Charcoal is our cat that we got from a friend who is always taking in strays.

What factors in your personal lives were important in selecting your pets?

I wanted to get female pets because I live in a house of all men! The service dog program we trained for raises Labs and Goldens so that is why we chose the dog breeds. Also, we live on a canyon and were having a problem with mice. Charcoal needed a home and just happened to be black like our dogs. We got Charcoal and Shasta around the same time and as a result Charcoal has no fear of dogs and bosses them around. And Shasta has even picked up some cat traits….

How did you find out about matching a pet to your lifestyles?

Labs are pretty easy going and super friendly so they’re perfect for our busy household. Labs and retrievers are used as service dogs because they can adapt to just about any household as long as you can give them plenty of love and exercise. We adjust our lifestyles to meet Charcoal’s needs.

Did you have to make any special adjustments to your home to help your pet?

When we were training Loma and Shasta as puppies, we had to really pick up after ourselves and not leave anything on the floor. Now that they are geriatric, I have put down yoga mats on our tile floors so it’s easier for them to get up after lying down. I also had a doggie door installed which I swear by! I feed Charcoal tuna at night so she’ll come inside and be safe from the coyotes.

How did you choose your veterinarian?

Loma had skin allergies so I put her on a raw diet that Don at Howlistic in Mission Hills recommended. He also told me about Dr Hebbler at Healing Hope in Encinitas who does a holistic approach to medicine for animals.

Any special locations or activities your pet enjoys?

All three of them like sleeping together on our bed. Charcoal also likes to kill lizards and put them in Bill’s shoes. Sometime she will kill mice & put them on the dog beds or under Bill’s bike which he keeps in our living room.

What is the strangest or funniest thing your pet does?

Shasta likes to drag around a four foot long body pillow; we call it her “boyfriend”. She also likes to sleep with him. Loma and Charcoal prefer to sleep on him.

Congratulations! Lori Walton recently became the executive director for SNAP (Spay Neuter Action Project). Their mission is to achieve zero euthanasia of adoptable and treatable pets in San Diego County. Through prevention – providing public awareness, educational materials, affordable spay/neuter procedures and subsidies when qualified. www.snap-sandiego.org 

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