Robert Garofalo was a prominent pediatrician on top of his field when he was diagnosed with HIV in 2010. A specialist in LGBT health issues and the head of a young-adult HIV program in Chicago, Garofalo found himself struggling with the same stigma he'd spent years teaching his patients to ignore. He kept his diagnosis secret for a year and became increasingly isolated from those closest to him. Then he decided to adopt a Yorkshire terrier named Fred.
"I'd never had a pet in my life," Garofalo told the Chicago Tribune. "This dog brought me back when I wasn't sure what direction my life was going. Fred took up all the space in my condo, space that had felt like a big giant void. He needed me but I needed him more."
The one-pound Yorkie "almost single-handedly and instantaneously lifted Garofalo out of despair" and helped him reconnect with people once again. But Fred did more than that: he made it possible for Garofalo to come to terms with his HIV diagnosis, inspiring the doctor to start a non-profit organization called Fred Says, which helps other people do the same.