When Fenix Lumiere was a puppy, he struggled because he couldn’t move normally due to the brain disorder he was born with. Four years later, the white Husky with the brilliant blue eyes is a prancing, happy dog sharing his love of life with people around the world.
Fenix was born with cerebellar hypoplasia, which affects his balance and coordination.
When he was two months old, he was dropped off at a high-kill shelter with his sister.
“They were massively underweight, and so we don’t know the story prior to them getting dropped off,” said Fenix’s mom, Zoe Lumiere.
Both pups were weak with tremors.
“They were shaking so bad they thought they had distemper, then parvo,” said Lumiere. “So, it actually took quite a lot to figure out what was wrong with them.”
Fenix couldn’t stand and he would fall over if he tried to walk.
A Fenix Rises
A rescue called I Stand With My Pack gave him the care and love he needed to survive and become available for adoption.
Lumiere said she and husband Eric had been looking for a dog to adopt, visiting shelters and checking the Petfinder app.
When Eric saw Fenix on the app he was immediately taken by the pup and he sent Zoe a photo.
“I started crying when I saw his little face and read about his condition,” she said.
They met Fenix and took him home the next day.
“It happened so quickly because we just knew he was ours. It was quite magical,” said Lumiere.
“We didn’t know what it would be like when we got him, but really, he has a mild condition. Cerebellar hypoplasia is much a more challenging condition for many, many dogs,” she said. “So, I don’t want to downplay the disease, the disorder, in any way because it is very challenging. Some dogs need wheelchairs to move. But his condition is very mild.”
The shelter had chosen the name “Phoenix” because the pup had seemingly risen from the ashes. Lumiere said the change of the spelling to “Fenix” was made because it felt less sophisticated and more playful.
“More like Fenix’s character,” she said.
Slow and Steady Steps of Progress
Fenix is now four years old and his coordination has improved over the years.
“When we got him, if he would start to run, he would fall over,” said Lumiere. “He couldn’t change direction without falling. He couldn’t jump, he couldn’t do stairs.”
But over time Fenix has learned to navigate. He walks very slowly and with a wide gait.
“In order to move more quickly, he can’t run like a normal dog, so he prances,” said Lumiere. “It’s just the most adorable thing that in order to move a little more quickly, he’s just developed this ability to prance like a dressage horse.”
Lumiere said because it takes Fenix more effort to get around, after about a 15-minute walk, he’s tired out.
“So, we go out four or five times a day because he loves to walk,” she said.
Fenix can do most things that other dogs can do.
“But all of those things just require more effort than a normal dog,” she said.
In spite of his disability, multiple veterinarians have told Lumiere that Fenix is not in any pain.
“He’s happy, he’s healthy, and he has a full life expectancy.”
Just a Hap-Hap-Happy Dog
Fenix prancing to “Happy Dog” racked up 7 million likes.
@fenixlumiere I’m sending my Love and #happyguy vibes to you! #awesomelyabled #dogsoftiktok #dancingdog #prancingdog #happydog #dog #husky #huskysoftiktok ♬ Happy Dog – DJ Moody
“Whenever we go out, we get people like ‘Oh my God, is this the happy dog?’ Or we get ‘Did you train him to do that?’ And we’re always like, ‘Oh, my Lord, I wish we could take credit for this, but it is him and it’s just how he’s adapted.’“
Fenix and his smiling face have brought joy to his fans—including the likes of some high-profile celebrities.
Shining His Light
“We get a lot of, ‘If I feel down, I just go to his page and just watch video after video, and then I feel better,’” said Lumiere. “And then there’s a lot of people who are very inspired because we have tried to also share disability inclusion and disability awareness.”
Lumiere said sometimes people comment that Fenix’s condition is not funny.
“He’s got a disorder that’s a brain illness. You shouldn’t be making fun of that. That’s not happy. That’s sad,” she said.
But Lumiere said she enjoys responding in a loving way.
“Say, you know, actually, no, he’s perfect as he is, and he is here to be seen and celebrated. And what a great way that we can start to learn not to hide or pity or shame disabilities,” said Lumiere. “Yes, he’s different, but he is not in any pain, he is not unhappy. Yes, he has a disorder.”
“I just feel like it’s really done a lovely thing for disabilities,” said Lumiere. “We’re in conversation with a lot of people who have different disabilities who say, you know, Fenix being loud and proud does help them keep going and help them appreciate they’re different.”
The Art of Acceptance
Lumiere, who lives in Ventura, California with her husband and Fenix, is a life coach. She said her business revolves around helping people use the tools of self-love and self-forgiveness as a way to let go of the past and the difficult things that have happened to them, and to learn to be happy.
Because so many people have been inspired by Fenix, she decided to create a health and wellness program that revolves around him.
“It teaches people about intention, about healthy habits, about emotional health, about mental health, about forgiveness, about letting go of being judgmental, about gratitude and volunteering and service,” she said.
You can sign up for free happiness coaching at her website.
“It’s got a pep talk from [Fenix], just encouraging them to show up as their happy selves, and it also gives a life coaching guide from me, just working with a particular skill,” said Lumiere.
Lumiere said the content members receive is grounded in basic psychology.
“One of the big messages I’ve also tried to share is that it is really important what we do with our sad moments,” she said. “It’s normal, it’s healthy, to feel sad.”
“And the biggest psychological thing that we can do for ourselves is to be kind and loving and supportive of ourselves when we feel down, don’t push ourselves. Don’t be critical. Don’t kind of judge and kick ourselves when we’re down. It’s okay to feel that sadness. “
“It’s been really lovely to talk about that with people and share that oh, my God, life’s a challenge and we’re all challenged. If even the happy dog’s not happy all the time, then maybe it’s okay when I don’t feel up all the time.”
Lumiere said she believes Fenix’s story of overcoming is a powerful one.
“Overcoming our challenges is always going to, I believe, help us find more love and more courage, more compassion for ourselves and others,” she said.
Playdates With Sis
In case you’re wondering, Fenix’s sister Nube, who was born with the same condition, is doing as great as Fenix. Her dog tag happily states, “I move with a groove and I like to play!”
Fenix and Nube get together for play dates and walks, and you can follow her on her Instagram page.