In 2007, the dog fighting bust in Stoddard County was happening right after the bust on Michael Vick’s property. The media was all a stir over Vick, while in Missouri we were taking care of the dog fighting problem in our “own backyard.” There were many special dogs from the Stoddard County bust, but one stood out from the rest: Phoenix. When I met Phoenix, I was surprised at how calm and confident he was after all he been through. His jaw was broken in four places. His retinas were detached from blunt force trauma, leaving him blind. Scars from many fights in the pit and rolling covered his strong body. Phoenix captured the hearts of his rescuers and they asked Mutts-n-Stuff to do something special for this boy. So we decided to build the Phoenix Cottage. We teamed with Teson Properties and Nick went into action and built Phoenix his own little cottage.
With being blind, Phoenix needed a stable environment where he could familiarize himself with his surroundings and feel comfortable to act like a dog for the first time in his life. The cottage was built with his special needs in mind. Phoenix had his own air conditioning/heating system, radio, bed, bench, toys, and his own private yard. Most importantly, for the first time in his life he had love. Phoenix blossomed as he played, ran, investigated the various yards, sniffed cats, and learned that other dogs would not hurt him anymore. His intelligence, love, and willingness to forgive humans and was inspirational. We had so much fun together in the two years he was with us. Then his past life caught up with him and he was ready to go home to live a life free from pain that humans in his past life inflicted upon his body.
Phoenix passed on to the Rainbow Bridge this week. He suffered steroid injections, poor nutrition, and physical abuse during his fighting years and they all took their toll. Phoenix was 12 years old – and if you consider that dogs age about 7 human years for every year they live, he was a an old age man of 84. No one thought he was going to live that long but Phoenix knew he had to have some fun before he died.
Phoenix loved to snuggle and listen to our breathing and kind words. He loved going for walks and finding treasures along the way. He got a kick out of toys that made noise and learned how to track a giggling wiggling ball. His intelligence was amazing as he paced out the yard and knew when to stop just before the fence line. The trust he had in Dave and I was amazing considering all he had lived through. Phoenix had an mischievous side to him too and one day he decided to start removing the slats from his shutters one by one. I was amazed by the precise and systematic way he destroyed his shutters. To keep his mind stimulated, we would feed Phoenix in balls that would roll and dispense food or a puzzle cube. He mastered every puzzle, every game we ever played. My fondest memories are his smile and practically jumping up into our arms before we would go for a walk. I was honored that he picked us to bond and form a very deep trust with, and that he knew would never let him be hurt again. Phoenix and Fay were such an inspiration to us that we took the concept of Phoenix Cottage and decided to build Fay’s Phoenix House. It is a halfway home from the chain in the yard and then being held as court evidence, to knowing happiness and comfort as they wait for a chance to find the special slot in rescue to start a new life. Fay and Phoenix are examples how wonderful the dogs from busts can be and how resilient and loving they are in spite of having known only pain and suffering. Fay’s and Phoenix’s ashes will rest side by side at Phoenix House. I love you my Phoenie boy…..I loved you very very much.