Phoenix Shows Off His Playful Side

December 4, 2012 Updated Dec 4, 2012 at 8:02 PM EDT

By Rachel Elzufon

...
December 4, 2012 Updated Dec 4, 2012 at 8:02 PM EDT

Buffalo, NY (WKBW) - Like a Phoenix rising from the ashes, a puppy is going to survive a harrowing ordeal.

Two teenagers are now accused of setting that puppy on fire, who was 16-weeks-old at the time.

That puppy, named Phoenix, has stolen the hearts of many Western New Yorkers.

Phoenix, once trembling with fear, is now playful and energetic -- full of love and affection.

Dr. Rebecca Wagner, the senior veterinarian at the Buffalo Small Animal Hospital, says "You can already see the behavior change from a few weeks ago until now ... He loves to be silly and play and maybe question your authority sometimes, just like little two year olds do."

Veterinarians say his second surgery last week, a skin graft on his back left leg, went well.

The puppy still is not using that leg, but a few days ago started running around and playing.

Wagner says Phoenix playfully "barks at other dogs, he wants to play with his toys. He accepts a lot of attention from basically anyone who wants to give it to him."

A lot of people want to give Phoenix that love. Applications have poured in from people wanting to take the puppy.

However, Phoenix still has a long way to go before find a forever home.

Phoenix still needs to have another skin graft surgery on Thursday.

His leg has a bone infection and veterinarians still do not know if the graft will take -- meaning there is a chance Phoenix will lose his leg. The puppy could need chronic pain medication long term.

With so much recovery left for Phoenix, vets are not focusing on adoption yet.

However, they are still amazed by the good signs. Fur has already grown back around his eyes, although Wagner explains "there's still a question of the hair on the lower neck. I don't think that's going to have hair growth, but the surrounding follicles will grow."

Through it all, Phoenix shows incredible resilience -- his puppy spirit shining through.