Monday, April 15, 2019

30 Stories 30 Faces 30 Years: Emily and Service Dog Hank Merrill

What CCA Means To Emily & Hank!

B - Because everybody treats us as equal rank!

E - Easy to be who we really are!

Y -Years go by quick but our CCA family is never far!

O - Oodles of fun and allows hank to be my emotional glue

U - Understanding, Acceptance & #BeYou!
                                                                                   - The Merrills 

Hank Merrill is a six-year old, Australian Labradoodle born in Sanford, North Carolina.  A few years ago, Hank flew on an airplane to join the Merrill clan in Tinton Falls, New Jersey. Mom, Nancy, and Dad, Gary, surprised Emily with the dog to help her “keep calm and assist her with walking.” Emily’s sister, Abigail, was excited for the new addition to the Merrill household, too. 

Nancy says, “Hank’s purpose is to bring peace, serenity, and love.”  Emily says, “Hank is my world and he has made me more independent.” When Emily and Hank go out together, she says, “People focus on Hank, not me.” He goes to every appointment at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) where Emily is treated for Goldenhar syndrome and a genetic heart condition called Tetralogy of Fallot.  CHOP’s surgical team allows service animals to lie in bed with patients as they drift off to sleep before surgery. Then, Emily and Hank are reunited in the recovery room after it is all over.  

Hank is with Emily at each physical, occupational, and speech therapy session, too. Hank loves to train, perform tricks, chase tennis balls, pose for pictures on Instagram where he @servicedoghank and @em.the.warrior have a large and loyal following. Hank hates water and being groomed. He is also not a big eater, but Emily helps him with that too. 

Everyone in town knows Hank. He is a bit of rock star in his own right! Perhaps, Nancy puts it best, “He allows Emily to be accepted better in an unaccepting world.” 

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