Today is the fourth anniversary of the day Greg and I adopted sweet senior dog Itchy on August 16, 2013.
I initially hesitated to write about this “adoptaversary”. After all, I already posted a tribute to Itchy when he passed away June 1 of this year. Would it be too sad to dedicate yet another post to a dog who is no longer in this world?
But then I thought more about Itchy’s story. I thought about all the loving dogs like him who so desperately need proper homes. And I decided that Itchy’s story does need to be told … and told … and told again — until people stop buying dogs from breeders, and instead open up their hearts and their homes to rescued dogs like him.
PETA’s Community Animal Project, now a primary recipient of Greg Fund grants, began watching over Itchy in 2007, in Suffolk, Virginia, where his owners kept him in a garbage-strewn outdoor pen. Finally in June 2013, one PETA fieldworker noticed that Itchy’s persistent cough—the result of an advanced, untreated case of heartworm disease—had gotten markedly worse. After she informed Itchy’s owners how serious this condition was, the owners finally agreed to relinquish Itchy to PETA.
Our PETA contacts then emailed Greg and me to ask if we would be willing to add Itchy to our family, which then consisted of two other dogs Fox and Marina, and five cats.
Greg and I talked it over, and decided to drive to PETA’s Norfolk office, with Fox and Marina, to meet Itchy in person. We deemed the meeting a success: Itchy pretty much ignored Fox and Marina, and vice versa! And with that, we made the commitment to give Itchy a home – our home.
Despite his years of isolation, Itchy quickly demonstrated an innate ability to get along with other animals – with Fox and Marina, and even more with our cats!
Here is the blog story that PETA posted about Itchy the month he came to us. (I still have an email that Greg sent me after seeing this post: “This is great except for the picture of me kissing Itchy on the lips – ha!”)
Meanwhile, that same month, Dr. Hanh Chau re-opened Middleburg Animal Hospital less than one mile from our house – and we immediately began working with her to cure Itchy of his heartworm disease. Within four months, he was deemed heartworm free!
After four happy golden years, Itchy succumbed to liver cancer this summer – but he continues to live on in the hearts of all who knew him. He has been memorialized with a leaf on the Tree of Life at PETA’s Norfolk headquarters – just above the leaf dedicated to animal advocate Sir Roger Moore, who predeceased Itchy by one week.