Krista Allenby had no intention of getting another dog. The owner of Austin-based pet photography business Ruff Adventures already had a packed schedule and a 10-year-old Boxer named Moose, so she told herself it wasn’t the right time.
Then she saw a Facebook post about a malnourished Pit Bull puppy who needed a foster home. There was something about him that made her pause.
“It wasn’t that he was sad or sick,” she says. “There was something that was like, ‘you need to meet this dog.’”
Ordinarily, Allenby would share similar posts with other dog lovers, but this time, she kept it to herself and reached out to Cutie PITooties Pit Bull Rescue to foster the dog.
Nicole Mazurek, founder of Cutie PITooties, says the puppy came to the rescue’s attention when someone found him and reached out to the organization on Facebook. He was severely malnourished and had an eye infection and demodectic mange (a skin disease caused by mites), so the woman took him to a vet for treatment.
When no one came to claim him, Mazurek got involved.
“We focus on neglected animals,” Mazurek says, adding that they take on dogs with more complex medical needs that might scare off other rescues.
When Allenby brought the puppy hime, he weighed 13 pounds and the vet initially underestimated his age by three weeks because he was so malnourished and underweight.
“He was ravenous,” she says. “It was very sad.” Now healthy at nine months old, he weighs close to 40 pounds.
The mange made his skin red and crusty, so Allenby named him Sebastian, after the anthropomorphic crustacean in Disney’s “The Little Mermaid.” Allenby says she could tell early on that “he had a good sense of humor.”
In the beginning, Sebastian required daily antibiotics, medicated baths and coconut oil massages to help with this condition. The daily medicated baths weren’t fun for Sebastian or Allenby, but “he loved the massages because he could eat the oil,” she says, adding that the pair bonded throughout his treatment.
After Sebastian’s baths, Allenby dressed him in baby pajamas to protect his sensitive skin and to keep him warm because he had no undercoat. Since Allenby works for herself, she made the time to care for Sebastian.
Unsure of how Moose might react to having another dog around, Allenby initially planned on nursing Sebastian back to health and finding him the best home possible, but after seeing how well Moose and Sebastian got along, she decided to keep Sebastian.
“Moose is my main boy so I didn’t want him to give him any less time in his senior years,” she says. “Two days [after Sebastian arrived], Moose started to play with him and they became best friends. That’s when I knew I wanted to keep him. It made Moose younger again.”
Allenby says Moose doesn’t seem to mind having another dog around, particularly one as helpless as Sebastian was when he arrived.
“If I dog-sit another dog, [Moose is] right in there [wanting attention]. But with Sebastian it’s like he just understood that puppy needs help,” she says. “He’s very sweet with him in a way I haven’t seen Moose be sweet with other dogs.”
Now the pair poses for photos together with an assortment of colorful costumes and props, and Allenby proudly posts their mugs online.
Right before Allenby adopted Sebastian, she thought it would be funny to host a party similar to a baby shower. “We had about 25 people come and bring him pajamas and cookies,” she says. The party also raised several hundred dollars for Cutie PITooties.
Fortunately, since Allenby’s job involves lots of dog events and photo shoots, Sebastian seems happy to tag along and already gets recognized from Allenby’s Instagram account.
“It’s fun because Sebastian is social,” she says. “He loves to come out to events. It’s fun having a dog who is young and frisky. Sebastian is living the dream right now.”
Mazurek says she’s happy to see how Allenby helped Sebastian morph from a shy, sick puppy to an outgoing party animal.
“Really, he just needed some medication and love,” she says. “He started healing on his own.”
You can see more of Sebastian on his Instagram page, @sebastians_story.
Susan Johnston Taylor has covered business and lifestyle topics for The Boston Globe, Entrepreneur, Fast Company, Parade Magazine and Upworthy.com. Her writing assistant is an adorable rescue Chihuahua named Sebastian.
Images via: Krista Allenby