There's no shortage of country songs about four-legged friends, but none are more personal than Wade Hayes' tearjerker "Who Saved Who," a tribute to his rescue dog, Jack.
Hayes says he found Jack nine years ago at a filling station. From the beginning, it was clear they were meant to find one another.
"He was very skinny — beat up, he had holes in him. The people at the filling station said that he'd been there for about three days just eating out of the trash bins," Hayes tells Wide Open Country. "He jumped up in my truck and just sat down like he belonged there, so I took him home and he's been the best dog I've ever had. He's been a great friend. He's been with me through an awful lot."
The singer, who rose to fame with the '90s hits "Old Enough to Know Better" and "On a Good Night," was inspired to write "Who Saved Who" after noticing how Jack was showing signs of age. But he never intended to record it.
"I looked at him in the early morning light and noticed how white he'd gotten. He's really gotten grey around the face and through his coat. I thought 'I can't imagine a day without this dog.' The song just started coming out and I never intended to do anything with it, but I sang it at a writer's night one night and saw people openly weeping in the audience," Hayes says. "That happened a couple times and we decided to record it."
Hayes was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2011. After battling and beating the disease, the cancer came back within a year. Thankfully, Hayes is now cancer-free and he has Jack to thank for helping him get through some of the darkest times.
"He helped me immensely through my battle with cancer. It took about three years. I can remember having to get out and walk Jack. We walked a mile — in the morning and at night — every day. I remember being out walking him with a chemo bag hanging off of me and it really helped me recover quickly," Hayes says. "I helped him out one night and he got to return the favor."
Hayes released a video for the song, featuring Jack and photos of fans with their own rescue pups. Watch "Who Saved Who" below.
Read More: 10 Best Wade Hayes Songs
Hayes, who grew up playing guitar is his father's country band, released his debut album Old Enough to Know Better in 1995. He scored his first No. 1 with the album's title track and followed up the success with the hits "I'm Still Dancin' With You" and "What I Meant to Say."
The '90s country era is seeing a resurgence, with artists like Brooks & Dunn reuniting to perform some of their biggest hits with the contemporary country artists they inspired. Hayes is one of many artists who's noticed a renewed interest in the era of music.
"The last year and a half has been increasingly busy and this year it looks like we're going to be busier than ever. The '90s is actually one of my very favorite eras for country music," Hayes says. "Those songs were really well crafted. A lot of work went into the lyrics and just musically...people seemed to play their instruments and there was just a really conscious effort to make great music instead of just an easily digestible tune that's more of the norm these days."
For more information on Hayes and a full list of upcoming tour dates, visit his official website.
Now Watch: Underrated Country Love Songs of the '90s
Enjoy Country Music?
Sign up for daily stories delivered straight to your inbox.