Ordinary People, Extraordinary Lives

As author Giovanny Guzman writes, "everybody has a story of their own." Read all about the inspirational story of a stranger Giovanny met walking his dog in Palmer’s Cove Park in Salem.

By Giovanny Guzman

You walk around town and see people every day, but most of the time, no one thinks to socialize with a stranger. On a typical summer day, I was walking my dog around Palmer’s Cove Park in Salem and noticed a man walking his dog, as well. I saw this man almost every time I went on my daily walk, so I decided to speak to him. We began speaking about our beloved dogs and, before I knew it, the conversation became one of the most inspirational I’ve ever been a part of. Everyone has a story of their own; this guy’s was a particularly special one. Here’s what he said:

“Three years ago I got my dog as a birthday present from my parents. The first gift they’ve gotten me in a couple of years. He is the reason I decided to turn my life around. I was a major drug addict with no job, a highschool dropout, and no meaning to life. I started using soon after high school and started to get involved with the wrong people. I started to steal money and use all of my friends and family to support my habit. The day finally came when my parents kicked me out. I went homeless for a few years, migrating from shelter to shelter. When I got him [the dog] he helped me to find who I was and the potential I had in life. No one ever believed in me when it came to anything I did. Whether it be my recovery, education, or anything else, it made me feel hopeless and tired of trying anymore. I know some people don’t look at dogs as people, but he has more of a sense of morality than any person I know. That’s why I walk him here every single day, because of that mural. The mural represents how he nurtures me and is helping me make a future for myself. And I know that even though this little guy can’t speak, I have to make him proud because he believes in me. I have to make him proud because if I continued my habits, he probably wouldn’t be here with me. He’d probably be living with someone else after being sold for drug money for myself. I love this dog and I know that when you love something, you’d do anything to keep it by your side. So, I decided to get my GED and go to college right after. I’m two years clean now and I go to North Shore Community College. If it wasn’t for him, none of this would be possible.”

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