It’s hard to imagine the shock that must come from discovering you have less than a year to live, but sadly that’s exactly the situation Walt Hollier of Round Stone, Texas, found himself in when he was diagnosed with stage-four liver cancer last summer.
However, his biggest point of concern wasn’t for himself, but for the fate of his two dogs, Diego and Doc. Hollier was fortunate enough to find a home for Doc with other members of his family, but finding a suitable living situation for Diego was going to be a bit more complicated.
“He loves people. He loves to run. And he's a red heeler,” Hollier said. “And I thought, well I can't die and have him in limbo.”
So, with one dog taken care of and another urgently in need of home, Mr. Hollier set out to find Diego a new family with the time he had left. He decided to make a post on Facebook with pictures of Diego posing in the back of his pickup truck, along with a message explaining his own situation and his mission to help the red heeler:
Hi, my name is Walt Hollier, and this a pic of my dog, Diego. Six months ago I was diagnosed with liver cancer, stage four, terminal. I was given three to six months to live. So in all likelihood, I will be leaving this world soon. I must find Diego a caring and loving home. He is eight years old and loves people. He has not shown ANY aggressive behavior in eight years. He is in great health and loves to run, play, swim, and ride in cars or trucks. He is a red heeler [weighing] 50 lbs. He is a great watchdog and real low maintenance. It tears my heart out to lose him. But it would bring me great comfort when I die that he is well taken care of. I live in the Austin area. So if you can help in ANY way, please contact me on FB or call me.
Hollier likely hoped to receive a handful of responses from potential candidates and maybe a few words of encouragement from supporters, but what he got was something else entirely.
“It went viral and pffft. Now it crashed my computer and my phone yesterday,” he said, laughing.
And Hollier wasn’t kidding. It turns out that his heartfelt, selfless message had resonated with people not just in his state, and not just in his country, but all around the world. At the time of this writing, his Facebook post has received over 86,000 shares, 15,000 replies, and 7,800 likes.
With such an abundance of comments coming from people concerned about Diego’s living situation and 100 individuals offering to help, Mr. Hollier’s initial problem of finding a home for the energetic dog had transformed into a problem of finding the right home for Diego with so many volunteers!
Although he was filled with gratitude toward everyone who responded to his humble request, the decision Hollier ultimately made was a little surprising, but it was undoubtedly the right choice for a special dog like a Diego.
Among those offering to take him in was the Last Resort Recovery Center outside of Smithville, Texas, and it seemed like the perfect solution to Hollier and Diego’s problem. There, the genial, playful red heeler would find a good living environment and plenty of friendly faces while helping men recovering from addiction.
Hollier said it was a tearful drive bringing Diego to his new home at the recovery center, but he could finally feel at ease knowing he wouldn’t have to worry about what would happen to his canine companion when he passed on. And the outpouring of support that both he and Diego received gave him some newfound hope as well.
“You folks are amazing, and have restored my faith in humanity," he wrote on his Facebook page. "God bless each and every one of you for the kindness you have bestowed me. And I hope there is a special place in heaven for all of you.”