Denzel came to Best Friends after he was rescued from the property of NFL quarterback Michael Vick, and he's proven to be as brainy as he is beautiful.

Because of his painful past, Denzel remains uncomfortable around people he doesn't know well. It takes caregivers about two months to gain his trust, with a plan in place to help guide the process. And although he can't have regular dog beds or blankets (he shreds them and ingests the fabric), caregivers have found other ways to spoil him.

Denzel thrives on training sessions. He knows how to wave and go to his "place." He’s learned to balance a giant three-foot ball on his nose, and enjoys taking himself for walks with his leash. And while he has faced a series of medical challenges, Denzel goes on outings to the creek for a bit of splash therapy to help keep him feeling spry.

Denzel's optimism and indomitable spirit inspire all of us at Dogtown. Your sponsorship will help provide continued loving care.

Denzel's Progress Journal

Vicktory dog Denzel says goodbye
Vicktory dog Denzel says goodbye
January 11, 2017

Vicktory dog Denzel was a fighter, but not in the way that NFL player Michael Vick wanted him to be. This brave dog fought against the trauma of his past to find happiness and friendship at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary. He also fought against serious health issues that threatened to take him down time and time again. He suffered from a strain of the blood parasite babesia, which is spread among dogs forced to fight by way of bites. It can be managed but not cured, and each bout takes an increasing toll.

Sadly, Denzel lost his battle today. His health had declined during the past few months and his body was tired. Surrounded by his friends — the Best Friends caregivers and vets who loved him and fought for him until the end — Denzel took his last breath and left this world.

There were no dry eyes in the house. As one of the 22 dogs who came to Best Friends in January of 2008 after being rescued from the dogfighting ring at Michael Vick’s property, Denzel had survived unspeakable trauma in his early years. But he never let his past define him.

We will never forget you, Denzel. All of us here at Best Friends and all of our members and friends are better for having had Denzel in our world. Rest in peace, my friend.

Beating the heat
Beating the heat
June 24, 2016

Denzel gets out for a leisurely walk early in the day, before the real heat kicks in. This fella knows how to meander and takes his time making sure to sniff every leaf and stone along his path. Denzel goes to the creek from time to time with his most trusted caregivers, so that he can sniff and splash in the cool water. Recently (and much to Denzel’s delight), he got a short wooden table to lounge on. Denzel had a wooden box that he loved to use as a perch, but as it turns out, snakes loved it, too (specifically under it). So it had to go. This table allows Denzel to get some elevation, rest comfortably and not be the go-to location for snakes. This upgrade is a big hit for Denzel and his caregivers. There has been no comment from the snakes.

Denzel’s health has been good, but he’s continually monitored because his chronic babesia can flare up. Because of your sponsorship of Denzel and other dogs like him, he can live a fantastic life, surrounded by trustworthy people who really love him. He gets specialized care from our veterinarians, and enrichment to increase the quality of his life.

Happy together
Happy together
January 7, 2016

Denzel is friends with Haylee, one of his wonderful caregivers, and the two of them enjoy quiet winter walks together. Denzel’s health has been good, and he has added one or two new people to his circle of friends. With winter here though, one of Denzel’s favorite pastimes — splashing in the water — is on hold until spring showers bring back his gigantic puddles. Exploring the trail, dreaming about chasing rabbits and playing in Tara’s run will keep Denzel busy until spring brings those beloved puddles back to the Sanctuary. Thank you so much for sponsoring Denzel!

Making friends
August 1, 2015

It’s mostly been lazy summer days for Denzel so far with a little hiking and swimming here, a little downtime with a Kong or a bone there. And, of course, there are his usual celebratory runs in the rain whenever a big storm rolls through. 

Denzel has been working diligently on welcoming new people into his social circle. He knows his trust issues include limiting the number of new people he can meet, so he’s determined to grow his list of friends as much as possible. 

Most recently, he’s been getting to know a new caregiver named Haylee who’s been learning the ins and outs of Denzel’s preferences and routines, and she’s spending time with him on walks. Everyone has been really impressed with the tremendous strides this anxious boy has been making. 

Thank you for sponsoring Denzel and for making it possible for him to learn to trust the world again on his own terms.

Keeping fit
January 14, 2015

Last week we mentioned to Denzel that there was a very famous Hollywood actor with his same name. And we’re sure he thought it was flattering that someone had named a famous person after him. We think so too. 

In addition to his “fame,” Denzel’s physical fitness is on the rise as well. He had a visit from a wonderful physical therapist who visited the Sanctuary recently and who gave his caregivers some great tips for how to keep Denzel mobile and pain-free. Apparently those tips were right on the money, because Denzel’s new favorite past time is zooming around his yard and splashing in the puddles during big storms. 

He’s also looking forward to spicing up his social life a bit. His best buddy and caregiver, Paul, has created a list of “best practices” for meeting and interacting with Denzel that is sure to expand his circle of friends. He may very well be more popular than that other guy named Denzel pretty soon! 

Many thanks to you for sponsoring Denzel and for helping make it possible for this beautiful boy to thrive.

Doing great!
April 23, 2014

Denzel has been doing great! Over the last few months, his circle of friends has grown, and he seems all the happier for it. He received some great new toys for Christmas, and can often be found carrying them around in his mouth like a little baby. He, of course, still enjoys playing with his Jolly Ball, and frequently pops it off of his nose like a seal. Denzel especially loves car rides, and will rub himself all over the car seat and give kisses to the driver. He has also become quite the snuggler with those in his “circle.”

Denzel just had TPLO surgery (knee surgery), and he is recovering quickly and maintaining his active personality. Part of his recovery includes hydrotherapy to maintain muscle tone, and it’s reported that he really seems to enjoy the treatments. Aside from his knee issue, he is in great health.

Thank you so much for being Denzel’s sponsor. He’s really come a long way since he was rescued from Michael Vick’s dogfighting ring. Your support allows us to give Denzel, and other animals like him, all the time needed to recover from their past.