My name is Chris Zanassi and I am the ‘person behind the curtain’ of MLBR’s Facebook and other social media. I also help staff awareness-raising events and fundraisers, and on occasion get to transport a pup or two when I’m able. I was very excited to become a member of the Board of Directors in October 2015 as the rescue’s Social Media Coordinator after just joining the rescue as a volunteer in May 2015. Then in March 2018, I was more than pleased to accept the offer to be the Vice President for MLBR. I’m honored to work side-by-side with our Founder and President, Holly Adams, and my fellow board members. Here’s my story of how Boxers and rescue became a huge part of my life:
I have been an animal lover my whole life, and have had dogs as pets since I was a little kid, so I’m not at all surprised that I ended up involved in rescue as a volunteer. My husband Jeff and I decided we wanted to get a dog after we bought our first house together in 1998, in Kirkland, WA. We didn’t know what we wanted to get but started looking through the newspaper ads and at what little was available online at that time. Jeff came across a litter of Black Lab/Char Pei puppies through the Vashon Island Pet Protection Agency, and my first reaction was NO puppy! But I saw the picture, we called, and the next thing I knew, along with our young son Zach, we were on a ferry headed to Vashon Island. The puppy we adopted ended up picking us and we couldn’t wait to get him home. It was a lot of work raising a puppy but well worth it because Chewie was an awesome dog. He was sweet, mellow, and never complained about anything.
A few years later, we adopted a 2nd dog, Sally, a Springer Spaniel, from a friend of mine who was losing the house they lived in and needed a place for her to go. Sally was also very sweet, but she was so neurotic; completely opposite of Chewie. We had Sally until August of 2010 when she suddenly passed away. I thought it would be hard on Chewie because those two were inseparable and best buds. But, being the mellow, aloof kind of guy he was, it didn’t seem to faze him, so we decided not to get another dog to fill the void.
We were blessed to have Chewie in our lives for 13 full years, until in July of 2012 we had to help him over the bridge. It was bittersweet, as our son went with us to the vet that day, and he told us it was because we were all three together when we first met Chewie, so it was only right that we all three be together when we say goodbye. Letting him go was by far one of the hardest things I’ve had to do as an adult, so it made sense to me when I abruptly declared that I was done with having dogs…no more!
Fast forward to October 2012…as I was casually looking through PetFinder (for no apparent reason), I saw the cutest dog I’d ever seen, a Boxer boy, and of course showed him to my hubby, who was less than excited. About a week later, after I kept talking about this Boxer boy, the hubby was on board. We were ready to adopt another dog and we wanted a Boxer!! We began following a local Boxer rescue, and after a couple of adoption attempts (and broken hearts), FINALLY, on January 1, 2013, we drove to Ellensburg, WA and brought home Vador. This guy was a hot mess in regard to behavior, but we were up for the challenge. In retrospect, probably not the best Boxer to adopt as first-time Boxer owners, but we weren’t leaving Ellensburg without a dog!! We worked very hard, with a couple of trainers, to help Vador be the best Boxer boy he could be…and he was amazing!! Honestly, he was the sweetest boy and had a heart of gold when it came to people. Not so much with other dogs though. We tried to adopt a 2nd Boxer, but he was so reactive and stressed, out of fear, that it just wasn’t able to happen. At that point, we accepted him for who he was and that he’d be an only fur-child, and we were very happy and content with that decision.
About 2 months after we adopted Vador, my husband and I started volunteering for the same rescue we adopted from, as their Merchandise Managers; another couple months later, I took on their Facebook page. This volunteer gig lasted just about 2 years and unfortunately ended quite abruptly. Again, I loudly declared…No more…I will never work for another rescue! I was hurt, broken-hearted, and ticked off, all at the same time and really thought I’d never get over it. But as we all know, we DO get over things eventually.
In May 2015, I heard from a friend who I worked with at the ‘other’ rescue, asking me if I’d be interested in checking out MLBR. We talked for a bit, then she introduced me to Holly. I wasn’t sure yet if I was ready to volunteer again, but then Holly and I spoke on the phone and I felt that energy again, and excitement about doing something good, to help save Boxers in need. She suggested I be added to the volunteer FB page, and check things out for a while, then when I’m ready, to let her know. It only took me about a day or two and I was in!
In November of 2016, our Boxer-boy Vador passed away, 23 days after being diagnosed with Lymphoma. We attempted treatment during that time, but nothing worked. We were devastated to say the least. He was only 6 years old and a perfect candidate for treatment but turned out to be of the small percentage of dogs who are resistant to the drugs used. We didn’t know what to do now. The silence of no dog in the house was awful, yet there was no way we were going to be ready for another dog anytime soon. About 2 weeks after Vador passed, Holly told me about a little brindle Boxer-boy who needed the rescue’s help, but we didn’t have a foster available. It only took me a few minutes to agree to foster this boy. Tray was our first foster dog and no we didn’t adopt him; we just weren’t ready. He found his forever home about a month after coming to stay with us and while it was hard to say goodbye to him, we were happy for him.
A few months later, in early 2017, we offered to foster one of the rescue’s longer-term residents, Ricki, to see if we could help her find a forever home. She was older, snarky, silly, sweet, and very vocal about many things. We fostered her for a year and there was very little interest in her from potential adopters. At that time, we decided there wouldn’t be any way we’d let her go even if the perfect family came along. We were her perfect family! So, Ricki became a Zanassi.
In early 2018, a beautiful white male Boxer needed rescuing in California. I immediately had interest in him but had no idea if Ricki would tolerate another dog in our home, as she is dog selective. Vito arrived in Washington and went to our Foster Advisor’s home for a full evaluation. A couple weeks after arrival, he had a tumor removed off his side, and we got the devastating news that he had cancer. Hemangiosarcoma to be exact. My husband and I still planned on meeting Vito, even if it was only to say hello and goodbye. We just weren’t up to taking in another pup who was sick and likely wouldn’t live for very long. The wound from losing Vador was still too raw. Anyhow, we met Vito and all of that went right out the window and we fell in love. It was now up to Ricki to decide if Vito was going to come live with us. She spent a couple of days with Vito at the Foster Advisor’s home and it was a complete success! So, we welcomed Vito into our hearts and our home as a hospice pup; with the promise that we’d love him and give him a good life for as long as he was with us.
Lucky for Vito, and for us, he never got sick. He was declared in full remission within one year of his tumor removal, and subsequently, we adopted him, as there was no way we were going to let him leave. Vito has been an amazing Boxer breed ambassador and has joined us at many MLBR events. We look forward to many more years with him and we also hope to have much more quality time with Ricki.
I am obviously completely hooked on this breed and plan to be a part of MustLuvBoxers Rescue for as long as I am able. I’m super excited to watch us grow and save many more discarded and forgotten Boxers along the way.