Two days before Christmas in 2017, a street dog in Buenos Aires, Argentina, was hanging to life by a mere thread.
He looked more like a skeleton than a dog, lifelessness in his eyes and painful sores on his body.
Had it not been for a compassionate woman named Pia, the dog would almost certainly be dead.
“I cried because I could not believe that no one had helped him,” Pia told The Dodo.
She scooped up his fragile body, believing there was no way the dog would survive through the night.
“There was no shine in his eyes,” Pia said. “At this point, he had given up.”
A veterinarian told Pia that if the dog could make it through the Christmas weekend, he stood a chance — but would need 24-hour care.
“I dropped everything to make sure that he would be OK,” Pia said.
The next 48 hours were grim. The dog did not want to eat and continued to lose weight.
Pia stayed by his side, refilling his water bowl and encouraging the dog to fight for his life.
“On two occasions I thought he was going to die because he really was not looking good,” Pia said.
But the day after Christmas, Pia noticed a change in the dog’s eyes and in his demeanor. The dog who had lost all hope was slowly regaining his will to live.
Over the next few days, the dog continued to fight, which is the reason for his name — Hercules.
The two spent many painful days and nights together as Pia helped Hercules regain enough strength to stand on his own.
In January, Pia saw Hercules take his first short, awkward steps all on his own.
The milestone left her crying tears of joy.
“Honestly, yes, I cried,” Pia said. “I cried like a baby.”
Pia knew those first few steps were the turning point for Hercules. He grew stronger each day and soon went from walking to having enough energy to run.
His hair began to grow at a furious pace, covering his healing body with beautiful dark fur.
Pia planned on placing Hercules up for adoption once he was healthy, but she said there was no way she could part with her dear friend.
“I am extremely proud because he showed me that he wanted to survive,” Pia said.
Now, when Pia looks into his eyes, they sparkle with joy, thankfulness and life.