Dog Who Helped His Owner Through A Heartbreaking Loss Now Brings Comfort To Patients With Dementia

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Marie Swanson’s entire life came crashing down when her 33-year-old daughter was murdered and found bound and stabbed in her home five years ago.

For Swanson, the heartache has never gone away, but she has thankfully had a tremendous support system in her dog, Hank the Tank.

CTV Winnpeg

CTV Winnpeg

Hank, a 280-pound English Mastiff, was just a puppy when this tragedy occurred, but he sensed that something was wrong. He stood by Swanson’s side through the funeral, the investigation, and the trial. Dogs are usually able to sense when something isn’t right, and they do a great job at comforting us and making us feel better. And Swanson needed that more than ever.

CTV Winnpeg

CTV Winnpeg

“He was my main reason for getting out of bed in the mornings,” Swanson told CTV Winnpeg. “It doesn’t matter what you say to them. It stays with them.”

CTV Winnpeg

CTV Winnpeg

Now, not only does he comfort Swanson, but he provides that sense of comfort to others as well. The gentle giant graduated from the St. John Ambulance Dog Therapy Program, and once a week, he visits Riverwood Square’s senior home and its residents. Many of them have dementia, but his visits with them bring back a lot of childhood memories. He gets them socially engaged and they all love and adore him!

CTV Winnpeg

CTV Winnpeg

“I didn’t know he’d be such a big hit,” Swanson told CTV. “I think Gina would want me to find some purpose. And she’d be happy with it, because she was a real animal lover too.”

Watch Hank the Tank in the video below:

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Growing up, Ashley always had a passion for writing. After receiving her Bachelor's in Journalism from Stony Brook University, she now uses that passion to write about the thing she loves most in this world: animals! When she isn't writing, you can find her curled up on the couch with a kindle in her hands and her Guinea Pigs on her lap.