In the wake of the tragic Orlando shootings, and news of dogs being sent to provide comfort and emotional support, we wanted to tell you about another dog that has turned his devotion to humans toward helping others.
At 280lb, this English Mastiff sure looks alarming, but don't let that fool you. He's as soft as they come, and has been offering reassurance to senior citizens in his local area ever since graduating from the St. John Ambulance Dog Therapy Program.
Pet Parent, Marie Swanson, got Hank shortly before losing her daughter, Gina, five years ago, and found her new pup a huge source of strength and courage. "He was my main reason for getting out of bed in the mornings. It doesn’t matter what you say to them. It stays with them," said Swanson.
As if he sensed her sorrow, Hank stayed close to his pet parent at all times, providing her with strength and support through tough times, including Gina's funeral and her murderer's trial. Affectionately named "Hank the Tank" owing to his size, the dog warms the hearts of those he meets without needing any words at all.
Heather Malazdrewicz of Riverwood Square, where Hank now volunteers his cuddles once a week, said: "The visits with Hank often bring back the seniors' memories of their own childhoods. Seeing Hank, it gets them socially engaged."
Marie is just glad that Hank is helping others, and is sure that her daughter would approve of the duo helping others: "I didn’t know he’d be such a big hit. I think she would want me to find some purpose. And she’d be happy with it, because she was a real animal lover too."
We have loved hearing such stories of pets offering comfort, and would love to hear your experiences with them providing support during difficult times. Share them with us in the comments below.