Supporting Humans with Self-Care: My Dog's Perspective

Hi! I’m Hansyn.

I just turned five. I’m originally from Los Angeles. When I was two years old, I ended up in a high kill shelter with an ACL tear. I was on the list to be put down but luckily, Gizmo’s Friends (a non-profit organization) rescued me, gave me the surgery I needed, and sent me up to the Santa Cruz SPCA (another non-profit) where my Mommy adopted me. Since then, I’ve had a lot of adventures. My favorite things are food, Mommy, looking for food, Daddy, eating greenies, and going to school. I love school! Daddy says I’m the teacher’s pet and a show off. I have six certificates from obedience classes to prove it.

Before I was adopted, I didn’t really know what dogs were. The only dogs I ever met were at the shelter, and they were all so unhappy. I was afraid of them. When I saw a dog, my little heartbeat would go pitter-patter-pitter-patter. I would almost jump out of my skin. I would bark and bark at these strange creatures who wanted to come sniff my butt. How would you like it if a strange fluffy thing came running at you to sniff your butt? Mommy would have to pick me up and tell me everything is okay. It took six months of rehabilitation but I’m all better now. I really like dogs, but I especially LOVE big dogs. They are the best at playing tag!

One year ago, I became a certified assistance dog. My job is to give lots of love and support to people who need it. I’m great at snuggles but my job requires me to do so much more.

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Here are a few of my favorite service dog tasks:

1. Find “someone”. Humans are so strange. Sometimes, they disappear, and Mommy tells me to go find them. After I find them and bring them back, I get bacon. Bacon is the best.

2. Leave. We all need a good excuse to leave sometimes (like when Mommy is at work but I want to eat dinner). I’m really good at giving Mommy a reason to leave. Everyone says “aww” and pets me goodbye.

3. Lap. Mommy loves it when I lie on her. It’s like when I sleep under the heavy blankets, and it comforts me.

Every now and then, humans get sad and anxious. I can feel it. Mommy's friend says it’s because I’m a healer. Mommy gave me a big job to help her with self-care and to help others too. San Francisco gave me a tag as a certified assistance animal but let’s face it, only dogs are good assistants. Cats just meow at you. I would know. There’s an orange cat who likes to visit my front yard. I love being an assistance animal. It gives me a sense of purpose. Maybe I really am a teacher’s pet. Just… maybe. Arf!