I am Valiant.
I was given that name to give me self-esteem and courage. I was always scared back then, and my friends wanted me to think of myself as someone I could be proud of. They wanted to give me confidence.
And so, they named me Valiant.
I wasn’t always so lucky. Before this, I wasn’t loved at all.
In the place I used to be, there were many other dogs. We slept outside, in our cages, lying on the dirt.
Whenever it came time to eat, the other dogs would bark and bite at me, and try to take the food. I got into fights sometimes just because the other dogs were so angry.
Someone cut my ears. That really, really, really hurt.
The people who kept us in the cage taught us to kill other animals. We were taken to dark places where pigs and their babies lived, and we helped the people to hunt them down. I wasn’t very good at hunting.
Because I was worthless to them, the people were angry with me. I was scared.
So I ran away, hoping that whatever I found outside of the fences would be better than the life I was used to.
I had almost nothing to eat for a long time, and I started to get weak and sick, until I had to lie down on the side of the road.
It seemed like I had been lying there a long time, and then a car stopped next to me. Someone came over and picked me up, then put me on the backseat of the car. I was so relieved, and even though I didn’t know what was going to happen, I could tell that this man was good. I had never felt a gentle touch before, or heard a person’s voice speak to me with kindness. I was so weak I can barely remember the journey.
But when the car stopped, I looked up, and I saw that he had brought me to a new place. A woman came to greet me, and I could feel that she was kind and gentle like he was.
They gave me water to drink, and food to eat, and a comfortable place to sleep.
They also introduced me to another dog even more hurt than I was. He had been shot, and was bleeding, and I tried to comfort him. I slept by his side that night, but in the morning I woke up to find that he had died in his sleep. I was sorry that he was gone, but it made me feel even luckier to be alive.
I was safe.
This place is completely different to where I used to live, and now it’s my home. The man who found me on the road isn’t here anymore, but when he left, some different people arrived. These other people are so nice that at first I didn’t know why they were being so good to me. And now I’ve been here for such a long time I’ve almost forgotten what life used to be like in the cage. I feel at home here.
Water is always waiting for me, and food shows up whenever I need it. At first I was nervous to eat because I was so used to being surrounded by other dogs. But now I feel comfortable knowing that no one will bite at me or take my food.
And the food is different here. It tastes delicious, and it smells fresh and clean, and it makes me feel healthy and calm. They tell me that the food is called ‘vegan’, and I feel so good when I eat it.
I feel so much better than I ever have in my life.
There is one woman who makes me food and brushes my coat. Another takes care of my teeth and nails, which I never, ever thought of doing. Several people take me for long walks, in beautiful places. There is a man who likes to play with me, and he tries to make my tail wag. That’s another thing I had not done much of.
They are always putting their hands on me, gliding along my fur. I never felt that in my life before. It feels good!
I get to sleep on a giant pillow. I think they call it a king-size bed.
There is a very special man here who has become my best friend. He understands me. I love to lie on my big bed and put my head on his chest. It makes me feel so comfortable and safe, more than I could have ever imagined.
Where I came from, I had heard stories of places where dogs were loved and made to feel like part of a family. I never thought that I could make it to a place like that, but now here I am.
I am home.
I am safe.
I am loved.
I am Valiant.