November, 2012. Twenty eight beagles were rescued from Advinus Therapeutics Pvt. Ltd. (a Tata Enterprise) in Bangalore. All on average ten years old, they had spent their entire lives in tiny cages while experiments of an unknown nature were conducted on them.
When they were released, there was an urgent appeal to adopt or at the very least foster these dogs. Since they were coming out of a sterile laboratory environment, it was not advisable to keep them in the animal shelter for too long for fear that they would contract infections.
I went to the pound and without knowing what I would do, I brought home a dog, whose only identity was a number -1053. I didn’t know if I was going to keep him forever or until we found him a home. When I saw him, he was stuck to the back of his kennel, staring at me with eyes as black as the night. I knew I had to get him out of there, I HAD to do something. He was unlike any dog that I had ever encountered in my life. Tongue hanging out of his mouth in stress. Lumps and bumps all over his legs. Skinny. Severe teeth and gum infection. He had a chemical stench emanating from his body. Back bent with no muscle strength to support his skeletal frame. Two hairless rings around his neck, suggestive of him being cut open at some point in his life. Everything was overwhelming for him. He didn’t know to climb up and down stairs, he didn’t know to recognize anything as food other than Pedigree even though he barely had teeth to eat it. I decided to name him Phoenix.
He stayed with me for a week, during which time it became obvious that he had never been around another dog in his life and being around my dog, Calvin was causing him tremendous stress. Despite the fact that Calvin is a peaceful dog, Phoenix would pace up and down anxiously if Calvin was anywhere in the same room, not sitting still for a single moment. It became imperative for me to find him a more suitable home where he could heal from the scars of his past.

phoenix-toyThe first time Phoenix picked up a toy to play with, was a day of great celebration, he was learning to get past his past and be carefree.
(Pic courtesy: Atindra Mohan)

Medical examination showed that his liver was producing three times more enzymes than what was normal. I wanted to make sure that he was treated for that, that he was physically fit before finding him an adoptive home. I moved him to my vet’s boarding kennel where we ensured that he never had to be in close proximity with another dog. He got to roam free in the sun through the day and would sleep in his spacious kennel at night. I visited him at least once a week and I could see improvement. His appetite had improved, he was gaining weight. More importantly, he was not stressed out around humans. He would even shyly come close for a pat on his head. He was learning to be comfortable around other, quiet dogs, although being around males still made him very nervous.

Phoenix on my terrace. He was happiest being outside in the sun, something that he was denied as his entire life was spent in a cage. He was visiting after a month at the vet’s boarding place and there was already a remarkable improvement.
(Pic courtesy: Atindra Mohan)

After three months, it was time to find him a home.  A friend of mine from college reached out to me and offered to adopt him. He was finally going home; a home like one that I had dreamed of for him but one that I didn’t know was possible. She was going to take him to her estate in Coorg, where the two existing dogs she had were both female. (What are the odds??!!) He would have wide open spaces to roam around in, plenty of sunshine to soak in and a family that would take care of him in the winter of his life.


Phoenix goes for a walk with his most favourite human in the whole wide world,
his baby sister
(Pic courtesy: Kushi Bhimaya)


Phoenix goes fishing with his brother in his new home in Coorg
(Pic courtesy: Kushi Bhimaya)

In helping Phoenix heal, I changed as a person dramatically. It is easy to fall in love with a happy, healthy dog but as I fell in love with an old, broken, stinky dog, I felt my heart grow bigger. It is true, “Saving one dog will not change the world but surely for that one dog, the world will change forever” and might I add, the world of the human changes forever too. Thank you Phoenix for leaving your footprints pawprints in my life, you are definitely the better part of my growing up in the thirties.

I had written for another blog, the incredible story of another incredible dog, Duke, from the same batch of rescued beagles. You can read that story, here:

Duke : A story of rebirth.


7 thoughts on “Phoenix

  1. Lovely, heart-warming post.
    I am not an animals person, i.e., I believe that each living species should just be itself, without attempting to non-instinctively influence another (food and defence are instinctive interactions among all living things). Having pets is therefore not my cuppa. But that pales before the atrocities committed on animals in the name of science.
    I often wonder if scientific progress at the expense of life-right (human/animal) violations is even worth it.
    I shudder at the thought of the torture the dog was subjected to at the lab from which it was most kindly rescued by you.

    • The rescue was a joint effort by several organizations as well as by many volunteers. I wish human beings would realize that we do not have sole right over the planet, we need to stop the torture of other species in our quest for longer lives, softer hair and brighter lipsticks.
      Thank you for reading Phoenix’s story, especially since you have not ever had a dog 🙂

  2. “Saving one dog will not change the world but surely for that one dog, the world will change forever” – that says it all! I’m smiling and a couple of steps away from tears of joy 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s