Nobody wanted Wally when he was just a baby alligator.
Far from it, people were terrified of him and other alligators like him. Wally was one among the many populations living around Orlando, Florida, a popular tourist city. People were suspicious that Wally would be dangerous to live peacefully among people.
“If I wouldn’t have taken him he would have been killed,” Joie Henney told The Dodo.
It was actually a friend of Henney’s who rescued the little guy and then Henny took him in, inside his home in York Haven, Pennsylvania.
That was how Wally’s life was saved. But in a turn of events, Wally would be the one to rescue his rescuer.
Henney was battling depression, and it even reached a point that his doctor suggested him to start taking pills. But for Henney, being with Wally was enough to make him feel better.
“When I came home and was around him, it was all OK,” Henney told The Inquirer. “My doctor knew about Wally and figured it works, so why not?”
That’s how Wally became Henney support and his best friend. The nearly 4-year-old alligator officially became emotional support.
Wally may be about 5 feet long but that doesn’t stop him from cuddling with Henney on the couch.
“He liked to give hugs,” Henney said.
Henney can’t tolerate a word against Wally. Most don’t even realize how warm and loving Wally can be, so Henney does not like taking Wally everywhere. Just to the places where he won’t be judged.
“Before I even had him registered as an emotional support animal I did take him around with me to stores, walks in the park and had meet-and-greets with him,” Henney said. Wally recently cheered up the residents at a local nursing home, hugs abounding.
“He helps me keep my spirits up,” Henney said. “When I’m down it’s almost like he can sense it…He will come over to me on his own. He also had climbed into my bed with me when I’m not feeling well.”
Starting this summer, Henney is building a special facility for Wally since he could grow up to 14 feet long. Providing an appropriate environment is integral.
Wally already has a personal pond to play in which he shares with another rescued gator, a 2-year-old named Scrappy. And then there’s Luna, who at 8 months old is the youngest rescue.
“Scrappy is still kinda small and Luna still likes to run around,” Henney said. “It’s Wally who gives the hugs.”
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