UPS driver Gavin Crowsley wasn’t about to let a dog in need go ignored.
On January 21, 2013, he spotted what he thought was a Dalmation while out on his delivery route in Indiana.
The dog was tied up on a very short chain in a snowy yard and looked like it was starving, so he pulled over to investigate. It had no food, water, or shelter.
“I could see every bone in his body,” he told his employer, according to HuffPost. “He was just lying there. I knew if that dog didn’t die from starvation, he was going to die from the weather. I didn’t want to have a confrontation, but I couldn’t just leave him there.”
The dog belonged to someone, but that person clearly didn’t deserve to have a pet, so Crowsley called the Clay County Humane Society to report the abuse.
It turns out the pup was no Dalmation – it was a severely malnourished GREAT DANE.
The dog weighed only 62 pounds – nearly 100 pounds less than he was supposed to.
Later named Phoenix, the pup was confiscated from his “owners” and taken for treatment. He was blind in one eye, completely deaf, and suffered from malnourishment, pneumonia, and frostbitten ears.
But he got the care he needed and was adopted by a wonderful family who set up a Facebook page for him called Phoenix Fighters.
According to HuffPost, Phoenix’s story was shared on UPS’s Facebook page seven months later, when they could share the good news that the recovering pup had been briefly reunited with the man who saved him.
Crowsley also got to meet Phoenix’s new mom.
“We’ve waited several months to share this story with you because we wanted the first photo you see of Phoenix to be this sweet boy reunited with the UPS driver who helped save his life,” the company wrote in a Facebook post.
They also reported that the dog weighed 160 pounds just a year later and was on his way to becoming a therapy dog.
By July 2013, Phoenix was learning tricks and made his first visit to a nursing home to cheer up the residents.
Over the course of his life, Phoenix helped raise money for cancer research and for other abused dogs in need of medical care.
And it was quite an eventful life for the Great Dane. While he made a good recovery, he suffered a setback in 2015 when he and his brother Rigs were poisoned and fell into a coma. He recovered but later needed more surgery for a growth on his foot.
But the majority of his days in his forever home were spent playing and eating and surrounded with the love of his foster family – which included some kids to play with as well.
No one knows how old Phoenix was when he was found, but they estimated that in 2018 he was around 9 years old – a little older than the average lifespan for a Great Dane.
And on March 12, 2019, Phoenix passed away peacefully in his adopted mother’s arms.
It was devastating for everyone, but also a fact of life. And this pup rose from a scraggly, dying, and neglected dog into a playful chubby family pet, living his final years the way all dogs should.
The Phoenix Fighters Facebook page is still active and occasionally lets followers know about other animals in need.
They posted a lovely tribute to their rescue mascot earlier this year and gave followers information on how people could continue to help rescue dogs.
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