WHO: Petco, steer owners Vincent Browning and Shelly Lumpkin, and the star of the show, Oliver the African Watusi.
WHAT: An attempt to call management’s bluff at the Petco in the Northeast Houston suburb of Atascocita.
WHY IT’S SO GREAT: If you see a sign on the door of a pet store that says “Leashed pets welcome,” you can draw a few conclusions: that off-leash pets are forbidden and that there are no other exceptions to this rule. If the animal is on a leash and its owner considers it a pet, it is welcome at the Atascocita Petco, where Browning and Lumpkin saw the sign. In order to test the retailer’s commitment to this policy, they brought in Oliver.
Oliver is a very large Ankole-Watusi steer. He’s a frequent guest at rodeos, parades, bull-riding events, and other places where visitors might be delighted to encounter a fully trained bull who enjoys napping in sunbeams and befriending kittens. On Monday, Browning shared a video of what happened when Oliver’s adventures extended to the Petco. Leading the steer purposefully but carefully through the automatic sliding doors to ensure that his horns didn’t shatter the glass, Browning brought the bull into the building, where he was greeted with delight by the store’s staff.
Of course they’re excited to see Oliver. Put yourself in the position of a Petco employee. You see a lot of dogs, maybe the occasional cat, probably a bunny or two every week. How many leashed, well-behaved, very good bulls do you meet? Almost none, we’d reckon—especially the rather exotic Ankole-Watusi, known as the “Cattle of Kings” (for its extremely regal horns) and heir to a lineage that dates back more than six thousand years, from Egypt to Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi, on to the European zoos of the 1800s, and finally to the United States.
Oliver was welcomed at the store—watch the way one employee, tentative at first, approaches to pet his head, a gesture that the gentle giant accepts approvingly. Whatever happened next at the store is between Oliver, Browning, and the employees, but Oliver’s Facebook page (of course this sweet, beefy boy has his own Facebook page) features photos of cashiers, trainers, managers, and other Petco staffers enjoying a casual hangout while the steer, at once both regal and approachable, stands calmly, proudly, and well within the rules posted on the store’s door.