In honor of Sparky, the beloved MUTTS character formerly known as Guard Dog, we're sharing happy stories about real-life "guard dogs." This story about a pup named Felix comes from our friend Shan Phillips, a Field Outreach Worker for PETA’s Community Animal Project.

By Shan Phillips

The long-suffering “backyard dogs” that PETA’s fieldworkers help are often deprived of many things — companionship, veterinary care, exercise, and respect, to name a few. It’s often difficult to persuade their owners that these individuals have complex needs. But the one thing everyone should know is an absolute necessity — non-negotiable, no questions — is at least one square meal every day. But for countless dogs like Felix, dinner doesn’t always arrive.

This small and spunky Shiba Inu mix was tethered outdoors 24/7 on a property in North Carolina, and his PETA friends frequently found him shivering in the cold rain or hopping around frantically, desperate for the slightest bit of attention and often something — anything — to eat. On a recent visit to the property, PETA fieldworkers saw that he was ravenous and extremely thin. They had a heart-to-heart with his owners, who agreed to give him up for a chance at adoption by a guardian who would care for him properly.

Field outreach worker Shan Phillips with Felix on the day of his rescue

This five-year-old pup was finally freed, after years of living on a chain, in October 2023. Felix blossomed while in foster care, gaining both weight and confidence, and quickly found a loving home.

Felix at his foster home

We recently received the following update from his forever family: 

“Felix now has two big sisters named Mavis and Dottie. He wrestles and plays with them all day. Even though they’re more than twice his size, he has no trouble keeping up with them. He makes up for his size with his explosive energy by constantly running circles around them and bounding over their heads. It’s quite a sight to behold.

“He loves his big new yard. It seems like he picks a new section to sniff and explore every time we take him outside. He loves car rides. He’s still learning what is and isn’t a toy. For example, we used to set our hamper of clean laundry on our bed to put away later, but now we do it immediately because Felix thinks all of the socks are his toys to take as he pleases. We’re still finding socks stuffed in the nooks and crannies of his dog bed.”

Felix with his new adoptive parents and siblings

Felix’s friends at PETA are incredibly happy to know that he will bring in the new year indoors, and will never see a chain again.

Every “Guard Dog” needs a “Doozy” — if you know of an outdoor dog who needs help, please check these tips and your local laws for ways you can make a difference!


To learn more about MUTTS' own Guard Dog and the plight of chained dogs, visit

Comments (5)

It’s so comforting to see this dog rescued and truly being enjoyed and loved. The smile on his face is beaming with his new canine siblings. His seem so happy and content. Yay!


Such a wonderful story at this time of year. The hope and love of Christmas is everywhere. Please adopt and give a sweetie like Felix the best Christmas gift ever! Thank you Mutts for keeping these stories coming! Merry Chrishtmas to all and a Happy New Year where every dog or kitty finds love and a home! Yesh!

Deb Zirkle

It is such a joy to read stories like these. Animals are at the mercy of those whose path they cross. These people are angels walking on earth!

Kay smith

What a lovely boy! It boggles the mind how one so breath-takingly gorgeous can be treated so poorly.

But I would just like to caution EVERYONE who adopts a severely-malnourished dog to limit food intake! My two rescues, a boy chihuahua Max who was nearly a “bait dog,” and Isabella, a mini shar pei who was beaten, are now FATTIES from too much “love.” Max was too under-weight to be neutered, so we had to help him gain weight; it worked TOO well. And we couldn’t train Bella for TWO FULL YEARS because her heart was broken.

Remember to adopt!

Daniel Laemmerhirt

Great story and a great picture of a happy dog. May all who had a hand in his rescue and especially his forever family be blessed with a wonderful Christmas season .

Bob Remonte