Above: Matt and Wiz.
By Carrie Wirth
Wiz looks right down the lens of the camera as if to say, “Don’t hate me because I’m handsome.” He is the Tackeria’s popular social-media spokesdog. His job is to lend his good looks to sell various equestrian and dog products. If he could talk, he’d tell you that he enjoys posing with dog treats the most.
The Tackeria is at the epicenter of Wellington, Florida, located between the home of the Winter Equestrian Festival and the Adequan Global Dressage Festival and not far from International Polo Club Palm Beach. The store is a cornerstone of the community and a bustling meeting place for hunter jumper, dressage, and polo enthusiasts and professionals.
The Tackeria is owned by Tony Coppola, the country’s most recognized polo announcer and a respected horseman. Tony’s family is involved in the business, including manager and nephew Lou Cuthbertson; son Matthew Coppola, a four-goal professional polo player; Matthew’s mother, Jesse Coppola, who manages all the social media; and, of course, Wiz.
“For months Matthew asked, ‘Mom, may I have a dog?’” Jesse said. ‘I said, ‘No!’ We had three dogs at the time.”
When Matthew was in California playing polo, he by-passed Jesse and asked his father the same question, and Tony gave him the thumbs-up to get the dog.
“He found border collie puppies on Craigslist,” Jesse said. “I still said, ‘No, no, no! You’re not getting a dog.’ The next thing I know, he’s sending me photos of Wiz.”
Matt met the Craigslist seller and made the deal for the dog. Back home in Wellington, Matthew’s puppy kept growing and growing and growing. Wiz was no purebred. It was as if he was part horse. It turned out the border collie was actually a border collie/Great Dane mix.
“When Matt went to Argentina for the season, Wiz was stuck with me,” Jesse said. “The reason he started coming to work with me is because he ate my house.”
Bored at home, Wiz ate Jesse’s carpet, two sofas, and upholstered chairs. He opened and spread 25 bags of charcoal in the lounge at their barn. He destroyed Jesse’s holiday decorations. Wiz was the Tasmanian devil of dogs.
It was clear. Wiz had to have a job.
Jesse started posing him for Tackeria photo shoots and started a Facebook and Instagram campaign called Wiz’s Pick of the Week. With thousands of followers, people started to recognize Wiz all over town. Now everyone in Wellington seems to know Wiz by name.
“Tony thought using Wiz for marketing was the dumbest thing ever,” she said. “Now customers visit the Tackeria just to see Wiz. I had a gentleman come in and say, ‘I want to meet the dog that’s on Instagram.’ I love telling Tony, ‘See, we were right!’”
At the store Wiz makes his rounds, visits all the employees, and zeroes in on the location of every cookie jar. He’s learned that a sad look or a clever trick will earn a coveted cookie. The employees can’t resist his canine cuteness and happily oblige. He loves his job and seems to understand exactly what he’s told to do on camera. He enjoys performing and he’ll hold a pose forever. Jesse says that she could put him in a bucket and he’d stay there. He earns every biscuit.
Erratum: In the print issue, the caption of Matt and Wiz did not properly identify Matt. We apologize to Wiz and the Tackeria for the mistake.