I am proud to introduce Christopher, who officially joined my family on May 16 after a two-week “foster to adopt” trial. He is my second adoption since I’ve been on my own, following Charlie the rescued racehorse in September 2016.
Christopher was kept outside 24/7 for several years, with another dog ironically named “Happy,” by his previous humans in the Norfolk, Virginia region. The dogs’ world was a pen that was typically covered in tarps and blankets–which more-or-less protected them from the elements, but also prevented them from seeing out.
Fortunately, starting in late 2015, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) Community Animal Project made periodic visits to check on Christopher and Happy, and were at least able to persuade the humans to provide their dogs with minimal care. Then in late March, when PETA fieldworkers arrived at the home for a routine re-check, they found the family in process of moving their last few belongings and preparing to head out of state. “We were going to call animal control to come pick up the dogs,” they said — and at that point PETA was finally able to take custody of Christopher and Happy.
These two dogs were then transferred to the Virginia Beach SPCA (VB SPCA) shelter, which regularly partners with PETA on animal rescue cases. Happy was quickly adopted out. Christopher, however, was underweight and suffering from an upper respiratory infection, hookworm, and severe chronic skin disease – so he was held at the VB SPCA shelter and clinic for intensive medical care. Halfway through the month, he had improved enough that he was able to spend two weeks in home foster care with one of VB SPCA’s own veterinary technicians. And then, by late April, he was well enough to participate in Poochella, the annual adopt-a-thon that PETA Norfolk coordinates to help multiple area shelters introduce adoptable dogs to prospective new families.
Greg and I had adopted our dog Itchy from PETA back in August 2013 – and after Itchy passed away last year, I knew that I would eventually turn to PETA to find a new canine “brother” for my surviving dog Marina and me. Poochella offered the perfect matchmaking opportunity, with dozens of dogs all gathered on a beautiful afternoon at PETA Norfolk’s Bea Arthur Dog Park. And when I met Christopher, I was touched by the many aspects of his story that were similar to Itchy’s. As for Marina–well, her first instinct was to show Christopher that she was the boss. Christopher indulged her for a while, but then diplomatically let her know that enough was enough. He seemed to be telling us that he knew how to make the relationship work – and so on April 30, I brought Christopher home.
In these first few weeks at his new home with me, Christopher has been steadily gaining weight, and his creamy white fur is gradually growing back over patches of raw pink skin. He has had the opportunity to go for walks on my farm and at nearby parks, race around my yard at full speed, and play with his favorite fetch balls and stuffed animals. He has also enjoyed touching noses with my horses, whose pasture shares a common fence line with the dog yard.
It is especially meaningful to me that I have been able to work with both PETA’s Community Animal Project and the Virginia Beach SPCA on Christopher’s rescue. The Community Animal Project was very dear to Greg, and has been the primary recipient of Gregory J. Reiter Memorial Fund grants – and VB SPCA was the recipient of PETA’s second annual Gregory J. Reiter Animal Rescue Award last June. Adopting Christopher, jointly rescued by these two organizations, is just one more way for me to honor Greg’s memory.