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Rescuing a death-row dog gave ONE's Danial Williams a new perspective on life

Before he fights on Friday, the Aussie star reveals what he learned about loyalty, sacrifice and hard work.
danial-williams

They say a dog is a man's best friend, and that's certainly the case for Danial Williams (4-1). 

The Australian rising star – who faces Namiki Kawahara (7-4-2) in a strawweight MMA clash at Friday's "ONE: Eersel vs. Sadikovic" – began a fulfilling journey when he adopted his mixed-breed pup from a local pound.

However, it wasn't all plain sailing, and "Mini T" learned a lot about love, life, and sacrifice from his new housemate.

'It was meant to be'

When Williams and his partner, Carla, approached the Desperate For Love Dog Foundation about a pup named Ash, they were warned that it would not be an easy first pet.

The Australian striker was new to dogs, and even though Carla was more experienced, the staff thought Ash might be too big of a project.

Still, Williams was willing to take the shot – especially knowing he could be saving a life.

"He was on death row because no one wanted him," Williams explained. "There's so many dogs in the pound that if they're dangerous, after a while, they just get put down.

"They were telling us, 'He's very dangerous, and we were looking for more experienced owners.' Anyway, we were kind of pushy with it, so they gave us the benefit of the doubt to foster him.

"We went and saw him at the pound. They told us. 'He's dangerous, you can enter your own risk.' I wanted to go in there because, if we're going to have him, we're going to want to know how dangerous he is."

It could have been a precarious first meeting, but Williams and Ash shared a moment that signified the start of their long relationship – and the dog's change of name. 

"He was doing all these laps because he was a highly anxious dog, and someone was in its space," "Mini T" recalled. "His name was advertised as Ash, but I wanted a dog called Genghis. Some of them called to him, 'Come here Ash, come here.' And then I said, 'Genghis, come here,' and he literally came over and leaned on me.

"If a dog leans on you, it means he's submissive towards you, so he's not going to attack you. And I was just patting him, and the people at the pound were quite shocked. They're like, 'He's never done that before.' So the decision was done. It just showed that it was meant to be. We were one pack. He was supposed to be with us."

Hard but rewarding road

Unfortunately, that first connection didn't mean everything would run smoothly.

In fact, for a long time, things weren't going well. Genghis was already 4 years old when Williams and Carla adopted him, meaning his issues with animals and other people were deeply embedded.

That made him very difficult to handle, and "Mini T's" fight camps meant he wasn't around as much to help.

The constant setbacks and challenges took their toll, and for a little while, the couple even considered making the heartbreaking decision to let Genghis go.

"My partner wanted to give him back for months because she was trying all this different training (that wasn't working)," Williams said. "I was very late back, and I was quite busy to train him. I said, 'He'll be fine,' and she was getting the stares, and she had to run back inside [away from him]. He was a bit of a dangerous dog to deal with. 

"Over time, he came through with a bit of patience. About eight months later, he just started to love us. And that was because my partner put in a lot of time and training, and so did I. It just gave him a chance to push through the problems."

Two-way street

With some progress finally being made, Williams and Carla stuck beside Genghis and committed to supporting him.

That devotion ultimately paid dividends, and three years later, the couple is grateful that they didn't quit after those tough early days. 

"He's the most loyal companion, so it was a life-changing moment for us having him." "Mini T" said.

As much as "Mini T" and Carla have helped their dog – saving him from the pound and training him to overcome certain behavioral issues – Genghis has also taught them some important lessons.

Above all, he's shown them that having belief and commitment is crucial to success, and that the reward for hard work can be much greater than the effort expended. 

"(Genghis) showed us persistence," Williams added. "If you feel your heart is in something, just never give up, no matter how hard it gets. That's what he's taught me because we didn't give up on him and look at him now – he gives so much love to us.

"We just love coming home and hanging out with him. We always go on adventures with him, camping trips, and stuff like that. So he's definitely made us keep life simpler. We love him, but he gives us so much love back."

This story first published at ONEFC.com.