A family hike in the Texas woods started out as an exciting adventure for Nellie, a 5-year-old pit bull living with her foster mom, Jane Taylor.

When Nellie first came to Taylor’s house, she had been bounced around from kennel to kennel for years without a stable home.

Nellie was understandably fearful, cautious, shy, and very protective of her environment and belongings.

But under Taylor’s guidance, Nellie began to emerge as a happy dog, learning to live peaceably with other dogs and humans.

One of Nellie’s favorite activities became her daily walk with Taylor, who said that at first, Nellie’s weight was a bit concerning.

“Nellie came to me a little bit chubby, which made her super cute,” Taylor told The Dodo. “We called her our little potato sack. But it wasn’t her true form, so we started doing runs together and now she’s a 45-pound pocket pittie.”

All that exercise paid off, and soon Nellie was enjoying a hike in the Texas woods with Taylor on a beautiful spring day in March.

“We went hiking up to this big rock dome and on our way back to the car from the hike, we were traversing an area that isn’t normally passed,” Taylor said.

But then an alarming noise coming from the ground brought Taylor to a stop.

“I didn’t even see the snake, I heard it first and stopped and started screaming,” Taylor said.

Nellie saw the snake and bolted towards its scaly body coiled up on the ground.

“She ran from behind me before I could even step away or turn around or anything — and she was on top of the snake,” Taylor said.

“When Nellie ran over, it was almost as if she was on it saying, ‘I got this one, Mom — keep going.’”

In her rush to defend Taylor from the rattlesnake’s poisonous bite, Nellie got bitten in the face.

Taylor’s friend Matthew helped separate the dog and the snake, and the pair managed to carry a very injured dog back to the car.

The venomous bite was already taking effect on the brave pit.

“When we got her in the car her eyes were closed, her head was tilted back and her mouth was open,” Taylor said. “She wasn’t ‘awooing’ in pain, but you could tell she was unhappy.”

Taylor rushed Nellie to the vet, where she was treated with two vials of anti-venom and sent home with antibiotics for the bite wound.

Nellie has been recovering from the ordeal and Taylor is thankful the dog was by her side that day.

“Everyone’s first thought is, ‘Nellie was protecting you,’” Taylor said. “And she very well could have, because she really stands to attention if there’s something or someone she doesn’t like on her walks.”

Taylor took Nellie in as a foster dog, wanting to give Nellie the skills she would need to live happily ever after in a forever home. Taylor is soon planning to move to Hawaii to care for her aging parents, and knows Nellie would do better with a forever family closer to her home.

Nellie is available for adoption through the Final Frontier Rescue Project in Texas.