In strange, unnerving times like these lately is when the love of our four-legged friends is even more special. In my wife and I’s case, we have a special furry friend who came into our lives at the perfect time long before all of the recent events in our world started. He needed us and we needed him and the Universe knew that.
Almost three years ago, mid-2017, my wife and I moved from Florida down to Costa Rica with our three dogs we had at that time. Two of which were 15 years old, while a spunky 2-year-old rounded out the bunch. Fast forward to December 2018 and after living out the rest of their lives on an adventure in the jungle we had lost the second of the 15-year-olds, Snickers. We had lost both of them within four months of each other. The first we lost, Hurley, had been my sidekick for almost all of her 15 years. Through college, several relationships, plenty of ups and downs, a wedding, and finally a move to Costa Rica. Our hearts were broken. Thankfully, we had a little ball of energy, Bailey, still running around the house. Although, needless to say, she was quite a bit lonelier.
We knew we would need to adopt another dog, which Costa Rica is never in short supply of dogs who need a loving home, but we couldn’t do it right away. Just shy of a month later, I happened to be scrolling on Facebook one day and came across a post from the local animal rescue in our area. I saw the picture and was shocked. They had received a call from the puppy’s owners and upon arrival found him hiding in a storm drain pipe with severe burns from the top of his head all the way down the length of his body to his back legs. He had been attacked by someone in the neighborhood and burned on purpose with either hot oil or water. His owners (who were not the ones who did this to him) and the workers from the animal rescue knew he could not stay in that neighborhood safely. Of course, the Facebook post was soon flooded with comments filled with disbelief and rage and those out to look for who could have done this. I immediately showed my wife and we both looked at each other, the same thought in our minds, and she said to me, “but where is he going to go now?”. We knew what we felt in our hearts and had to do.
I immediately messaged the director of the animal rescue who had posted about him and said: “we will take him in”. After telling me that he would need burn treatments, in her care, for the next week and a half and then we could take him, she cautioned that it would still take several months for him to fully heal. We knew what we were in for and wanted more than anything to give him a safe, loving home. Finally, a day shy of my birthday, we met our new furry addition. I remember my wife asking what we were going to name him and I knew it immediately: Phoenix. It only seemed fitting.
It wasn’t long before Phoenix seemed like he had been a part of our family forever. He was now inseparable with Bailey and his personality continued to come out more and more every day. His scars still very much visible but the fur grew back as much as it could around them. There was a light in his eyes that was missing in that first picture I ever saw of him. He also thoroughly enjoys wearing T-shirts when out and about, strutting his stuff. (He has to wear a shirt to cover his scars in the sun so he doesn’t get sunburned).
It wasn’t until later that I fully realized that he came into our lives at the perfect time. Maybe Snickers and Hurley had something to do with that while sitting on the rainbow bridge, or the Universe knew we had big holes in our hearts that needed to be filled. But, we needed Phoenix, and he needed us. There’s no truer saying than “dogs are a man’s best friend”. An unbreakable bond built out of unconditional love, no matter what. We would do anything for him (and Bailey of course) and he would protect us with his life. I know that for sure.
One thing I’ve learned is we all have our scars from past hurts and go through periods of sometimes unimaginable pain, but that doesn’t mean we can’t rise up better. Phoenix sure did