Cherry Garcia is a lover, not a fighter, and he doesn't have to worry about fighting anymore.
His life now consists of snuggling with kittens, having his belly rubbed and making new friends everywhere he goes.
This wasn't the way Cherry would usually spend his days. The 11-year-old pit bull was among more than 50 dogs that were removed from Bad Newz Kennels, the notorious dog-fighting operation in Virginia run by then-NFL quarterback Michael Vick.
In 2007 his life changed when he was rescued. What this aging pup didn't know, that some of the best days of his life were ahead of him.
He was transformed and recovered from his trauma, which lead him to be honored in BarkPost's Dog's Best Day, which aims to give deserving dogs the best 24 hours of their lives.
In Cherry's case, his dream day was something we would all choose for ourselves.
Cherry's dream day involved a cuddle party with tiny kittens, a backyard beach bask with his human family and a chance to eat dog-friendly ice cream.
“People don’t understand (that) dogs in fighting rings are no different than any other dog. The proof is in Cherry,” said Paul Fiaccone, who adopted Cherry in 2010. “He wants to be happy. He wants to give back. What he wants to do is love.”
Paul's wife, Melissa agreed.
“He has shown the world that even if you come from a background like he did, you can still go on to be a great family dog,” she said in Cherry’s “best day” video.
Close to half the dogs that were rescued from Vick's dog-fighting ring made it to Best Friends Animal Society's sancuary in Utah to be rehabilitated. Since then they have been able to live out the rest of their lives as beloved pets.
Many people thought that, based on the dogs coming from a fighting background, that they should automatically be euthanized,” Michelle Weaver, Best Friends’ director of animal care, said in Cherry’s BarkPost video. “(We) really felt the dogs deserved to go through the rehabilitation process because they were the victims.”
“Cherry just loves his kittens, he has two cats now and he loves to play with them,” Cherry’s owner Paul Fiaccone told BarkPost
“Every time he’s around kittens, it’s like all the stress goes away”
“He would definitely love to be a kitty nanny for a day”
When he arrived at the sanctuary, they realized how much help the pup would need.
“When we would try to walk him, he would flatten his body right to the ground and almost crawl because he was so scared,” she said.
Those days are behind Cherry. Now her life is playing with a white and tan pit bull, Ellie, her family adopted earlier this year, snuggling and playing with the Fiacocones' children Novi and Rosalie, as well as their two cats Walker and Sophie.
Nothing has slowed Cherry down, since he has started his new happy life, not even surgery to amputate his back leg because of painful arthritis.
“If Cherry was a vicious dog, he would not be able to recover,” Paul Fiaccone said. “He just needed somebody there to give him the time that he needed to recover.”
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