Phoenix — Rise of (the) Phoenix

On December 30, 2010, we rescued an emaciated 27lb, terrified feral dog who was found running scared in Gaston. Since he was only about a year old and in obvious terrible condition, we assumed he must have been running for most of his life, living on whatever scraps of food he could find and drinking from whatever puddles were available. In addition to being skeletal, his tail was matted to the bone and his color was an unusual blond, that made it difficult to tell whether he was a Border Collie, or some other breed. I wondered whether his coloring might have been bleached out from being malnourished and outdoors for so long.

We named him Phoenix, because he was going to rise from near death.

Phoenix was as close to feral as a dog can get. He did not want to be handled at all, but he was not aggressive toward humans, he just avoided handling because he was so afraid. We bathed him and he seemed to really enjoy the warm water, even though he was trembling from fear. We also cut all the mattes off his tail.

We spent the first few months just feeding him and allowing him to watch the other dogs play. He was also afraid of them, but he was noticeably curious and watched them with wide eyes.

After a month or so, Phoenix started to interact with the other dogs. It was so sweet to watch him because he had NO idea how to play but he would get excited and run circles around the other dogs, bouncing around and thinking he was part of the action. The other dogs just continued their play as if he wasn’t even there.

After six months, it because evident that Phoenix was actually a Border Collie. His coat grew back thick and soft. All of the blond coloring grew out and we were surprised by what we saw! Phoenix’s actual coloring was white and a chocolate brown (commonly referred to as “liver”). He has one blue eye and one brown eye. He weighed in at 52lbs, and more than doubled the weight he came in at. It turns out, Phoenix actually does allow people to handle him, as long as they are proven trustworthy first. He is super shy, but also very gentle. He finally figured out how to play with the other dogs and now he runs like a rocket and knows how to wrestle a bit. Normal social behavior!

Phoenix still isn’t confident to leave my house and walk on a leash. He is as confident as anything in my yard, but the minute we get to the front door, his brakes go on and we have to drag him or carry him. He won’t even walk with his favorite doggie companion! We’re working on that issue , but we realize he probably won’t ever be super confident. I guess it doesn’t matter, though. He’s happy and healthy and that’s what matters! Please enjoy the chronicle of Phoenix recovery in the pics below.

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