Calista, San Diego, CA

“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched – they must be felt with the heart.” —Helen Keller

My name is Calista; it means “most beautiful.”

In July 2013, I was wandering the streets of Phoenix when a police officer found me. He thought I was blind because of how I was moving around and as he got closer, he quickly realized I was badly hurt.

He was able to convince me to come with him and he took me to the county shelter. The staff at the shelter began networking and they posted a picture of me on Facebook. They also contacted Mayday Pit Bull Rescue & Advocacy and asked them to help me.

Mayday does such good work that they were actually on a moratorium, meaning no new dogs. Lucky for me, the founder and president of Mayday knew I was special and reached out to my (then foster) parents asking for help. They had recently lost their very first Pit Bull to cancer and were having a hard time without her. I reminded them so much of their first dog that they immediately agreed to foster me.

The very next morning they picked me up from the county shelter and brought me to the amazing emergency veterinarians at VetMED. I was not doing well at all. My ears were severely damaged and the remaining tissue was infected and decaying [graphic photos]. The wounds to my ears looked like bite wounds and my body was covered in old scars. It became apparent that I was likely bred and used as a bait dog.

I was also emaciated and dehydrated and the veterinarian said I had been like this for a while. My body was covered in ticks and I tested positive for nearly every tick borne disease including, ehrlichia, babesia, and anaplasma. I needed a blood transfusion, multiple surgeries to clean and debride my ears, and lots of medicine.

I was scared and in pain, but I was hopeful.

The first night was the scariest. The odds of my survival were slim and Mayday and my parents wanted to give me a name before leaving, just in case I didn’t make it. They picked Calista because it means “most beautiful.”

Fortunately, I made it through the first night, and the nights after that! Initially, I was scared of everything, including jingling keys and even food. 🙁

My parents came to see me at least once every day for bonding and slowly, I began to trust the people around me.

After I was stable, I was allowed to go to my foster home! I had to be quarantined for a little while, but my parents took turns spending time with me in my room and they even set up a camera so they could watch me while I slept without waking me.

Eventually, I was allowed to meet my big brother Zazu and spend time in the rest of the house! Considering what I went through, my parents took the introduction very slow and I did amazing! Although I was on my way to becoming a healthy dog, I was still making regular trips to see my friends at VetMED and Mayday continued to fundraise for my medical costs.

Other groups shared my story too, like the Anti-Dog Fighting Campaign and Hendrick Boards who sold t-shirts to support my medical costs. People from all over contributed to my care and because of them, I am here today.

These days, life is awesome. My hearing is intact and I am off all medications. I love pretty much everything I do. My favorite things are sleeping on the couch, giving kisses, playing with toys, long walks anywhere, eating anything possible, and snuggling on top of whoever (2- or 4-legged) is near. 🙂

I also like to do support Mayday Pit Bull Rescue & Advocacy and other organizations that promote awareness of the breed. I even have my own Facebook page, Calista the Pit Bull, where you can see photos that chronicle my journey.

I love people and most other dogs, but my best friend is my big brother Zazu. He lays with me when I’m scared and he helps me learn new things, like how to play with toys and how to go up stairs. Not only does he help me, but my parents say I helped him too. Apparently, he was so sad after he lost his big sister that he stopped taking treats when my parents left for work. The first day I moved into the doggie room, was the first day Zazu took a treat again.

I like to know that not only did my family help me heal, but I helped them heal too. That is beautiful.

My name is Calista and I’M NOT A MONSTER!

♥ Calista

Parents: John & Jeannette