Peter Macintosh still has nightmares about the dog he wrestled as it shook a toddler "like a rag doll".
But he would not take back his heroic intervention for a million dollars.
"I still just think I did what anyone else would have done in that situation. I just reacted, there was no time to think about it."
The Hagley Park Golf Course superintendent risked his life to save 2-year-old Aotea Coxon from the jaws of a staffordshire-cross dog in August.
She had been playing in Jellie Park in Christchurch with her two siblings when the dog attacked, savaging the little girl's face.
Macintosh, 44, sprinted 200m towards the dog, jumped on top of it and dug his fingers into its windpipe in an effort to get it to drop the girl.
When someone came to help hold the dog down, he went to Aotea's aid "virtually holding the side of her face together with my hand".
He then applied first aid and comforted her until an ambulance arrived.
Aotea required 290 stitches and had a plate put in her jaw but because of Macintosh's intervention, she is now looking forward to starting kindergarten next year.
The dog has since been destroyed and its owner has been charged.
Police hailed Macintosh as a hero, saying Aotea's injuries could have been far worse had he not intervened.
And it appears the police aren't the only ones praising him.
"It's quite amazing, random people will come up to me on the street and tell me how proud they are of me and congratulate me," Macintosh said.
Aotea's sisters made Macintosh Thank You cards after the incident.
He has kept in touch with the little girl and visited her in hospital twice. He hopes to visit her before Christmas as his daughter has made beaded bracelets for Aotea and her sister Jasmine, who was with Aotea at the time of the attack.
Macintosh had been with two of his children Samantha, 14, and James, 8, at Jellie Park.
Samantha now fears all dogs after watching the vicious attack and won't go walking in parks by herself.
"She used to be really outgoing. I don't think she'll ever trust dogs again," Macintosh said.
"She's constantly watching and looking at dogs, she's very nervous."
Samantha won't even go to her cousins' house in Dunedin, where she used to babysit, because they have dogs loose in the back yard."
Macintosh admits he's a little uneasy around canines himself.
"One day at work I was walking along a bridge and a similar type of dog was walking along it towards me with no owner in sight.
"I just stopped and thought this is really not good."
Aotea's mum Chantel told the Herald Aotea still required regular check-ups and might need plastic surgery when she was older to correct her face, but she seemed to be recovering well.
She said she couldn't thank Macintosh enough.
"It was great that he was there."