While recovering from a rare circulatory disorder that made it difficult for me to walk even 10 minutes at a time, I decided to foster a dog to distract myself. I’d never cared for a pup before, so I asked a local rescue to avoid matching me with a big, aggressive or very energetic animal.
A few days later, Hero—a scruffy, 22-kilogram street dog from the Cayman Islands—arrived at my front door. He tried to attack everyone and anything that made him feel vulnerable. I was terrified by this unpredictable dog and thought many times about returning him to the rescue—but whenever I did, he would let me in a little, as if to say, “Give me just a bit more time.”
Eventually, Hero’s trust in me grew and we learned to overcome our fears together. During my illness, I never could have imagined I’d be walking three hours a day, and his aggression is now almost entirely under control.
It took two years before Hero started coming to me for affection. But all of the training and tears were worth it. There is nobody in my world as cherished as my dog—he really is my Hero. –Nikki Saltz