After losing four companion animals to illness in the last year, I am celebrating the spring birthdays and adoption anniversaries of six who are still with me.
April 30 is Christopher’s day – the 5th anniversary of the day I brought him home!
Christopher’s birth date is unknown – but PETA’s Norfolk, Virginia-based fieldworkers first met him as a young adult in November 2015. Learning that Christopher was penned outdoors 24/7, the fieldworkers began regular visits to ensure that he was at least receiving food, water, and basic care.
In March 2018, the PETA fieldworkers were finally able to take custody of Christopher, after learning that his human “family” was moving out of state and planning to leave him behind. Christopher was underweight and suffering from an upper respiratory infection, hookworm, and severe chronic skin disease – and so he was transferred to the Virginia Beach SPCA clinic, which regularly partners with PETA on animal rescue cases, for two weeks of intensive treatment followed by home fostering with a veterinary technician.
By April 28, Christopher was well enough to participate in PETA’s annual multi-shelter Poochella adopt-a-thon. I was there with my other dog Marina in search of the right new addition to my family – and Christopher caught my eye, rolling on his back in the grass for a tummy rub. Marina mostly displayed her alphaness, while Christopher displayed a remarkable ability to keep peace. I decided he was “the one” – and two days later, I was driving him to my then-home in Maryland.
For the first few months, I focused on helping Christopher fill out to a healthy weight, while treating his skin disease with regular baths and dermatologist care. I began feeding him a vegan diet – which even my traditional vet agreed was the best choice for his skin. To this day, Christopher dines on a mix of commercial vegan foods, plus my homemade recipes from Dr. Pitcairns’ Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats – together with his favorite treats, Nature’s Animals peanut butter & carob cookies and assorted fresh vegetables.
In those early months, Christopher could barely contain his excitement about all the new stimuli in his life –- the new people he met at my house and the vet’s office, fetch games in my back yard, walks with Marina at my farm and local parks – and especially meeting my horses.
Marina was bossy to her last day in July 2022, and Christopher took his cues from her – so he was out of sorts for a while when we lost her. But over time, Christopher has come into his own as the sole dog in my household.
He still enjoys daily walks around the perimeter of my horse pasture, racing around my yard at full speed, and hanging out with me on the living room couch. He has also enjoyed occasional training and agility classes, dog hikes with meetup groups, and picnics with my favorite local organizations.
Happy “Gotcha Day,” Christopher!
More about Christopher’s early life in PETA’s October 11, 2018 blog post Thanks to a Kind Supporter, Christopher’s Sad Story Has a Happy Ending.