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Woman With A Fear Of Dogs Decides To Adopt A Dog Who Is Afraid Of People And They Develop A Heartwarming Friendship

Recently, TikTok user @ketophoria, whose real name is Teresa Hwang, shared her heartwarming story of love that is greater than any fear, which has been viewed by 1.6M people and gained 449.9K likes in just a few days.

The 51-year-old elementary school Special Education teacher from Oakville, Canada has been bitten by a dog twice, which led to a severe fear of dogs for most of her life… until she met Boo, a shelter dog who was afraid of people. It was a match made in heaven to grow and overcome fears together. In those couple of years, they both had to take baby steps and surround each other with patience and unconditional love to gain trust and develop a friendship like no other.

“Sometimes, I still can’t believe I have a dog, much less love one as much as I love Boo. I tell people he’s like the son I never had. I don’t just love him because he loves and needs me. I love him for who is, exactly as he is, for all he has overcome and for the joy he has brought into my life,” Teresa Hwang told Bored Panda

“I have been afraid of dogs for most of my life. Having been bitten by friends’ dogs at the age of 10 (on the forehead) and the age of 20 (on the leg), I had developed a dog phobia that I was able to manage mostly through avoidance. I would cross streets to avoid walking past leashed dogs, did not enjoy running outside, and would ask friends I visited to put overactive or barking dogs in other rooms. While I could manage and interact with friendly dogs that I became familiar with, regardless of size or breed, I still always panicked if a dog growled or barked, even if it was just playing.”

Even though Hwang’s boyfriend has been asking for a dog for a number of years, the serious idea to adopt one came a couple of years ago, after dog-sitting her sister’s 16-year-old black mutt, Cola, for two weeks.

“After researching and reaching out to a numerous rescue shelters, we found a dog named Patches (we later renamed him Boo) at the Niagara Dog Rescue. Boo had been in the system for about 6 months, originally came from Texas (two different shelters there and at least another foster family),” said Hwang.

“For the first couple of months, he didn’t engage much. He would follow me around the house but couldn’t approach. He wouldn’t eat in front of us. He wouldn’t touch toys. He walked with his tail between his legs. He paced a lot. He cowered in corners. He flinched and would shake at noises like the washing machine or the furnace.”

“Unsure about his history, we treated him as if he experienced trauma and worked on creating safety and building trust. We kept to predictable routines and took cues from his body language when not to push him outside his comfort zone. We researched using different anxiety tools (e.g., Thundershirt, Slow feed bowls, Calming spray, CBD oil) and used multiple trainers. He was hard to train because he wasn’t highly food motivated as he often got quite anxious around food (perhaps because he associated food with pursuit or punishment).”

“Then eventually, he started to feel safe, I noticed his tail started to wag on walks. He started to eat in front of us. A few weeks later, he licked me on the nose. A couple of months later, he started to play with a ball. Then, I heard him bark for the first time in excitement in our back yard. With each milestone I witnessed, I cried happy tears because it was as if Boo was a puppy again and was learning ‘how to dog.’”