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Wild Ones

Don’t Take Designer Devin Brugman’s Dog to a Spirit Halloween

Or a pool. Or the ocean.

by Nisha Gopalan
October 16, 2022
Brunette woman in a white tank top smiling at the camera while sitting and leaning on her tan dog amidst many flowers and plants in a patio outside
Photo by Mariel Weinand

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As amiable as she is enviable, Devin Brugman is known to many beachgoers as the sun-kissed designer of soft, impeccable beachwear. In the business world, she has made a name for herself as the co-founder of Monday Swimwear, who transformed a $30,000 loan into a multimillion dollar brand. 

Brugman, who was raised in Hawaii and lives in Los Angeles, is the embodiment of what we want a Girl Boss to be. She’s smart, visionary, and independent — with just one exception. She puts her needs aside for one guy in her life: Walter, her pandemic rescue dog. The Wildest talked to the entrepreneur and dog mom for more details on how she achieves work-life-pooch balance. “Every time somebody brings him up, or brings up their dog,” she says, enthusiastically professing her unconditional love for Walter, “I go on a long rant about him!”

Photo: Mariel Weinand

I have to say, Walter has the prettiest, most soulful eyes.

I know! He has so much emotion in his face. Everybody says that he’s basically human. But yeah, I mean, he’s extremely handsome, too. I’m looking at him right now, and he’s like, “What are you talking about?”

Did you grow up around dogs?

My family used to have guinea pigs, fish, bunnies, cats, dogs — you name it. My mom was always the fun, crazy one. We’d drive around [in Hawaii], and she’d be like, “Look at that dog! Look at that cat!” Then we’d go bring one home, and my dad would be like, “Oh, God, not again!” So I’m a super animal lover. But since I’ve moved to LA, I’ve been traveling for the past 10 years straight. It wasn’t the right time to get an animal.

When COVID hit, my fiancé and I were like, “Let’s just foster — see what this is all about.” I got so unbelievably attached to the dogs that when they were adopted, I was crying and crying. I remember the feeling of when I was a kid and how much joy they really brought to my life.

Photo: Mariel Weinand

What was it like the first time you laid eyes on Walter?

Dogs are suffering, and it just breaks my heart to see that. So I knew I wanted to rescue one. I saw a picture of Walter’s brother, and was like, “Is this puppy still available?” And she was like, “No, his brother is. And then she sent me a photo of Walter.” I told my boyfriend, “This dog is perfect.” 

Literally the next day, we went downtown where he was staying with a foster. The guy brought him to the side of the road in Downtown LA. It was like a drug deal! He was, like, 12 pounds and immediately started licking both of our faces. On the car ride home, he was just so chill. So comfortable, laying on his back. Just didn’t even care. That’s his personality. 

Puppies can be a lot of work, though.

I literally turned into a dog trainer — a psycho person who watched every YouTube. I watched the dog trainer Masterclass. I would do my training sessions with Walter every day. Now it’s paid off tenfold, because Walter is such a good dog.

Photo: Mariel Weinand

Since you’re from Hawaii and have a swimwear line, you’ve got to be a water person. Is Walter?

He hates the water! Oh my gosh. I mean, he likes going to the beach, and he’ll kind of run in when I throw the ball. But when it comes to the pool, he is terrified for his life. He goes straight into panic mode. It’s funny because he’s not scared of a lot of things.

Well, at Home Depot the other day, there were these huge Halloween outdoor statue decorations that were making scary Halloween noises, and he was terrified of them. Would not go near them! Everyone at Home Depot was laughing at him. But apart from the pool and Halloween things, I haven’t really seen him scared of anything.

Photo: Mariel Weinand

Halloween is coming up. You work in fashion. Are you going to dress Walter, and what have you dressed him as previously?

I get him all the costumes. I was actually just looking on Amazon last night at dog costumes. Last year, he was a spider. It was a tarantula, and it was the cutest thing I’ve ever seen in my life — when he walked around the house...all the legs. On my Instagram, you’ll be able to find him as a lion, which was, like…I could not even breathe. It was so funny. He really looked like a lion.

You still work a good deal. Do you take Walter with you?

We’re very lucky that my fiancé and I primarily work from home. I’ll go to the office once or twice a week. But I can totally take Walter with me. I’ve never taken him on a plane; I’d be interested to see how he behaves. My fiancé has an assistant who stays at the house and watches Walter pretty much every time we leave. He is obsessed with her. And she’s obsessed with him.

Photo: Mariel Weinand

How has your interest in wellness manifested in how you take care of Walter?

We first got him, I started him on Just Food for Dogs, which is all fresh and, you know, super bougie. I don’t want to put a bunch of processed crap in my body, so why would I give that to Walter? Another thing I was gonna say is the reason I love giving him fresh food is because he has no bad breath. If he does eat kibble, I’m like, “Oh, God, your breath.”

The thing about the food is he got a little bit picky with it. So I was trying to switch him from the beef to the chicken, the chicken to the lamb, and kind of go between all of those. Now I do still use Just Food for Dogs as his base, and then I’ll add some meal topper. He’s really, really healthy. I think that because he’s a mutt, he is less likely to develop some of these diseases that a lot of purebred dogs, unfortunately, get.

Photo: Mariel Weinand

Do you give him any supplements?

I’ve given him a probiotic supplement. What I do want to start getting more into is his dental care because my sister just took her Corgi in and had to get one of her teeth extracted. The vet said that brushing your dog’s teeth and really staying on top of their dental care can add up to four to five years on their life. I want him to live as long as humanly possible!

I wish he could live as long as I do. Like, I think about how short their lives are, and I actually do start crying. I have a deeper connection with him than I do with 95 percent of the people in my life. Obviously, I want him to live his best life, but I want to try to do it in the most healthy way possible. So, for me, he’s my number one.

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Nisha Gopalan

Nisha Gopalan has been a writer/editor for The New York Times, New York magazine, Entertainment Weekly, Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, and NYLON magazines. She currently resides in Los Angeles.