Vicktory dog Cherry finds happiness in new home and makes cat friend

When you have as many fans and supporters as Cherry the Vicktory dog, you can pretty well ask for the moon and expect to receive it, along with a bouquet of constellations on the side. No doubt this guy is well loved, with an "extended family" numbering in the thousands. Yet he doesn't ask for much out of life — at least not any longer. He already has his heart's desire: a home all his own. Snuggle sessions on the couch with one of his family members (his people Paul and Melissa, his dog buddy Madison and his new cat buddy Walker) are all it takes to make Cherry believe he's in paradise.

Cherry the Vicktory dog in his adoptive home

Cherry has lived with his new family for over a year now. "Cherry's doing great," says Paul. "It still amazes us today; it seems like every week that goes by he keeps improving." When Cherry is with his own little family unit, he acts like a normal dog, explains Paul. (Which is probably the most exciting comment anybody could make about Cherry.) For Cherry, "normal" was an uphill climb from day one.

Huge improvements for shut-down dog

When he first showed up at Best Friends from the estate of Michael Vick, Cherry was shut down emotionally, especially when it came to being around people. Yet with countless positive vibes being sent his way every day, he couldn't help but make improvements. Cherry had a vast crowd of friends at the Sanctuary in his corner, along with an ever-growing army of supporters from far away. Together, everybody rallied to help Cherry understand that life doesn't have to be so hard.

Paul now refers to that group of supporters as Cherry's extended family — and a family they are indeed. They still want to know everything that goes on with him. Cherry uses his Facebook page to pass along updates. He's had a lot to talk about, for sure! His official adoption came last March, after successfully passing the court-mandated six-month foster period. That was just the beginning of all the wonderful things that have been going on for Cherry lately.

One of the main highlights of 2010 was Paul and Melissa's wedding. They were engaged when Cherry joined their lives. For the wedding, Cherry and Madison, the other dog in the home, showed up to stand in the reception line for 45 minutes. That's all the time Cherry was up for. Still, Cherry's brief presence was a huge hit for all in attendance. The moment he walked in, he stole the show hands down. That's Cherry's specialty — without trying, he racks up fans wherever he goes.

Pit bull terrier advocacy

Cherry has been busy making other public appearances to improve pit bull terrier awareness. At the most recent event, a pit bull awareness day at a no-kill animal shelter, attendees were allowed to give Cherry treats. In this instance, he did something he'd never done before. Cherry followed simple training commands from strangers, wagging his tail the whole time. What a superstar!

For Cherry, meeting new people is not always easy. Paul and Melissa have to watch his cues carefully during public events. They know when he's ready to pack up and go home. Such events are good for him in the long run, though, even if they're somewhat challenging. Melissa and Paul have noticed how afterward, when Cherry's back in the comfort of his own home, he makes greater strides toward trust and confidence. Getting out in the public stretches him bit by bit in a positive way. It's a definite win/win. Not only is it good for Cherry, it's a huge plus for those he meets. People love to see what a happy, charismatic dog he is. He has made a great impact in public perception of pit bull terriers.

Pit bull terrier makes a cat friend

The other big news item in Cherry's life this past year has been the addition of Walker the cat into the family. Paul and Melissa adopted Walker as a kitten from a local rescue group. Walker and Cherry are now two peas in a pod, wrestling and cuddling constantly. Walker's favorite napping place is right on top of Cherry's head! Walker has played an important role in teaching Cherry even more confidence. "He kind of lets down his guard when Walker is there," adds Paul.

Giving back to animals in need

As did his buddy Handsome Dan — with whom, by the way, Cherry still has play dates — Cherry decided to give back to other animals in need. Cherry, with a little help from Paul and Melissa, held a fundraiser raffle for his birthday this past June. Cherry donated some paw-printed photographs, and several other organizations pitched in items for the raffle. All told, Cherry was able to raise $1,400 for Mariah's Promise, a pit bull rescue in Denver, Colorado.

Cherry has a new home, several animal buddies to snuggle with and chase around the yard, a comfy couch to claim more often than his people get to, and thousands of friends out there who want nothing more than for him to enjoy the happiness he's found at last.

Now there's a happy ending for the record books.

Photo courtesy of Paul and Melissa