Adopted Pup Finds Joy in Raising Money and Awareness for Shelter Dogs

Adopted Pup Finds Joy in Helping Raise Money and Awareness for Shelter Dogs
Graham is all smiles, living the best life with his parents!


From as lost pup to a model who appears at fundraisers and charity functions, Graham is living his best life! Graham came to Texas Humane Heroes in January of 2017 with his sibling at just over a month old. After being placed in foster for a few weeks until he was old enough to hit the adoption floor, he and his sibling went offsite with Texas Humane Heroes to PetSmart, and after his sibling was adopted, Graham was left alone. He was nervous and lonely, but that’s when Rhian Valentine and Juan Sepeda came along.

Rhian and Juan knew they were ready for a dog and knew they wanted to rescue, but finding the right dog took some searching. They had planned to go to a “Clear the Shelter” event, but were told by a friend that most of the animals at the shelter were getting stressed out by all the people, so they figured they could go the following weekend when it was less crowded. They spent the weekend popping into several Petco’s and PetSmart’s that had shelters hosting Adoption Weekends, but found mostly cats. They did meet with one sweet dog, but she was a 4-year-old with a lot of strength, and that’s when Rhian, who had never had an animal of her own, realized she needed a dog that she could learn and grow with. Then they stopped into PetSmart Cedar Park, where they saw Graham.

There he was, curled up at the edge of his enclosure with his head turned away from everyone around. Rhian and Juan got a treat to give to him, and they didn’t even have to get in his eyesight – as soon as Graham smelt the treat he whipped his head towards them. The couple found it very silly, but it also showed them that Graham was food motivated, which can help when training an animal. They stepped aside to discuss it, knowing that Graham’s big paws would make him a large dog, but when another woman stopped by, Rhian realized she did not want to lose Graham, so she gently stepped forward and announced that they would be getting Graham – Juan started filling out the application immediately.

On February 18, 2017 Graham was adopted, but his life after adoption is a bit different than some dogs! With the help of Zoom Room Dog Training, Graham worked on learning proper puppy etiquette, like potty and crate training. Graham helped Rhian and Juan understand that raising a puppy takes time and patience, but the time spent was always worth it when they got to see how excited Graham got when he would learn something new.

Adopted Pup Finds Joy in Helping Raise Money and Awareness for Shelter DogsThe couple started Graham’s Instagram account, @muttbuttgraham, to document his training, his life, and to show how wonderful adopted dogs are – Rhian didn’t know she would be happily welcomed into the Austin dog community. In the community, she made some wonderful friends who gave her advice about training and raising dogs. It was a friend in the Austin dog community who told her about BarkHappy’s Spring Fashion Show. They entered Graham as a contestant, and he was accepted!

It wasn’t long before they were sent information on VanderPUP Drools annual dog calendar, whose sales would be donated to Bailing Out Benji. Rhian and Juan submitted a story about Graham’s adoption from his point of view, and Graham was chosen as Mr. February!

Graham was also the face of Texas Humane Heroes’ Pound4Pound campaign with Tomlinson’s!

Rhian, Juan and Graham align themselves with any great dog cause in Austin or anything that raises awareness for adoption and shelter dogs. Rhian and Juan love giving back, and Graham is always happy to join them in helping!

Graham’s biggest gig is coming in 2019, where he will be the “Dog of Honor” or “Best Dog” at Rhian and Juan’s wedding! In their engagement photos, Graham is clearly the star of the show!

Rhian says “Graham is so lucky to not know abuse, neglect, or having to overcome a major hardship, but that doesn’t mean his fellow pups have all been so lucky. It’s for that reason he works his cute tail off at fundraisers, charity functions, play dates with fellow fosters, and any support that we can sniff out. It’s also why Graham is training so hard to one-day show that mutts can be therapy dogs too…. Adopt, foster, donate, volunteer and share – these are all things that so many of us, my family and myself included, do to give back and turn best case scenarios into everyday scenarios, so that all the pups in the world can find their fur-ever home just like Graham did.”

Rhian continues that “Graham is a mutt in every sense of the word. Everyone has fun trying to guess what he is. German Shepard? Sure. Boxer? Maybe. Catahoula? Sounds good. Whatever he’s made up off, there’s one thing that always stays the same: love. The love people give him and the love he always gives back knows no breed…. Love knows no breed!”

Texas Humane Heroes is so grateful to Rhian and Juan for adopting Graham, and for the three of them giving their all to support and bring awareness to shelters and adoption centers everywhere. We love keeping up with Graham’s updates on his Instagram, and we love when our adopters share updates with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!