top of page

From Streets to Stardom

Laura Beil

Tri-City Tales Issue No. 3

Chris Reno is a computer guy—a computer guy who is also a dog lover—so when he saw a job opening at three years ago, he leapt at the opportunity. The online pet retailer has tripled its business since 2018, and makes a point of hiring passionate pet owners. One employee perk: Every day is Take Your Dog to Work Day.

Then in March of 2021, Chris’s French Bulldog, Loki, was stolen from his backyard in Duncanville. Heartbroken, he visited Tri-City Animal Shelter every weekend, searching for his lost Frenchie.

By July, Chris had given up. One of the shelter staff suggested that Chris meet a gray, year-old pit bull the staff had just found on Red Bird Lane. The dog was so emaciated that his head looked like it belonged on a larger animal’s body. They called him Hippo. Chris sat on the floor, and Hippo trotted in. He laid down in Chris’s lap. That was all it took.

Coming from a life on the streets, Hippo was so timid he was barely interested in dog toys. Chris didn’t want Hippo to be alone, so he took him to the office every day. Hippo loved everyone, and everyone loved Hippo. He became a workplace favorite. After a few weeks, a Chewy staff member told Chris that the company was trying to increase the diversity of dogs in its holiday ads— after all, every dog doesn’t need to be a doe-eyed golden retriever or poodle fresh from the groomer. Pit bulls were underrepresented. Could they photograph Hippo? His modeling career was born.

Today, Hippo is always ready for his close up. He’s learned basic commands from the studio staff, so they can count on him to hold a pose. (Chris brags like a stage dad: “He’s so smart!”) After every photo session, Hippo moseys back to his bed in Chris’s office, and plops down with a sigh that says: Dunno about you, but I’ve had a DAY.

Chris is proud of Hippo for being a trailblazer, literally helping to change the way people see pit bulls. Today, Hippo is modeling Christmas sweaters. He’s taken headshots. Tomorrow, he may need an agent.

bottom of page