IVOR, Va. (WVEC)---Through the endless cotton fields of Ivor is where you'll find Marindy Creef and her dog Axle.
The three-year-old rescue is calm, loving and full of life. He shows no signs of the long fight he's endured to be with his family.
"He shows affection to everyone," said Creef.
Marindy's husband first found Axle at his lowest point. Two years ago, the dog was shot and run over by a car, barely making it to a shelter where he was rescued. Thanks to the Creefs, he's had a family ever since.
"I've had lots of people say it's just a dog," said Marindy. "This one isn't just a dog."
But after a recent trip to the veterinarian, the family would learn Axle had another life-threatening challenge ahead.
"They did emergency exploratory surgery," said Marindy. "At that point his stomach and intestines and liver had gone up into his chest cavity."
Veterinarians had little hope, and while surgery was possible, there were no guarantees. Aside from that, the family would need to raise over $8,000 for the procedure.
"If you can't do it for them, who will?" said Robin Knauth with the non-profit Gimme Shelter of Smithfield.
After hearing about the family's situation, Knauth stepped in to pay for Axle's entire surgery.
"Takes a family working together doesn't it," said Knauth.
The Creefs were able to pick Axle up from NC State University on Wednesday, and to the surprise of doctors, he's already close to a full recovery.
"I just think he's a fighter," said Creef. "And he's here for a greater purpose."
For a dog that was never supposed to make it this far, Axle now soaks up as much affection as he can.
And for the family and community that didn't give up on him, he has plenty of love to give in return.