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Earless Bait Dog Goes to Loving Home

Phoenix's ears may have been hacked off right down to his head by the cruel dogfighters who used him as a bait dog, but that...

Maria Goodavage  |  Oct 7th 2010


The former "Phoenix," shortly after his rescue from doggy death row last month

Phoenix’s ears may have been hacked off right down to his head by the cruel dogfighters who used him as a bait dog, but that didn’t matter to Thom Barg and Sarah Eichenlaub. It was the dog’s eyes that won them over.

“He had sad eyes but kind eyes. Despite what he had been through, a sweet dog was there,” Barg, a TV production coordinator, told the Contra Costa Times. “He looked like he needed a good home.”

A good home is just what Phoenix has found. His new owners — who were among 60 people who applied to adopt him — have renamed him Dalton, after the battered bouncer played by Patrick Swayze in the movie, Roadhouse. (The movie had a happy ending.) Dalton has been with the couple for about two weeks now, and is thriving in his loving home.

In fact, after just one day with them, rescuer Tiffany Norton, a volunteer with Coastal German Shepherd Rescue, says Dalton was doing better.

“It was above and beyond my expectations…he was very happy,” Norton said.

Dalton continues to heal physically, with the aid of much TLC from the couple. And now that he’s in his new, loving home, perhaps some of his emotional trauma will heal too.

As we reported last month, Dalton was within hours of euthanasia in a Los Angeles-area shelter when a shelter volunteer took a photo of him and sent it to numerous rescue groups. There was just something about those eyes, even then — even that close to his brutal past life and his impending death.

Life has gone from hell to heaven for this former bait dog.

Norton saw the photo and was drawn in by his story. He was emaciated, covered with fleas and skin infections, and bearing the brutal physical signs of having been a bait dog. But there was something in those eyes.

And apparently, the eyes do not lie.

Barg says Dalton is sweet, well behaved, and not aggressive.

“He’s been great,” Barg told the newspaper. “You wouldn’t have any idea he’s been through what he’s been through. He’s very inspiring.”