The Just Love Project 012: Lending a Helpful Hans

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Big or small, for better or worse, expectations govern much of our lives. Dogs have their own sets of expectations too, they’re just usually a little simpler. And mostly tied to walks and treats.

Helen and Hans, an Illinois-native human and White German Shepherd respectively, are a great example of the fickle and funny nature of what we expect.

Growing up, Helen never had a dog of her own. But, she declared that when someday she finally did, a White German Shepherd would be the perfect breed for her.

When Someday became “I’m-retired-now-so-I-can-actually-do-this Day,” Helen expected that the odds of rescuing such a rare breed were quite low. A call to an Indiana breeder revealed that no puppies were on the way, but a young male had just been rescued off the side of the road by the local County Sheriff.

“I still thought, I’ll probably end up waiting for a puppy,” Helen remembers.

Get this: she didn’t.

After some walks around the property, some mutual sitting, sniffing and evaluating, Helen resigned that despite what she expected to happen, the answer was sitting right on the grass in front of her, rolling on his back to formally request a belly scratch. Welcome, home Hans.

Five years later, Helen couldn’t imagine that story unfolding any other way. Together, Helen and Hans have overcome a few health scares, made new friends, and even learned the dos and don’ts of playing nicely with those new friends.

Now with days filled with agility classes, beach days, and well-deserved McDonald’s ice cream cones, life tastes just the way they want it to.

“My life has been greatly enhanced. And that’s probably an understatement.” Helen says.

While it seems there’s not a habit of Hans’ that Helen doesn’t adore, there’s one that’s become a particular favorite. One day after a routine grocery run, Helen began hauling bags from the car but Hans had other plans.

“He’s a herding dog, so he’s naturally good at cutting me off when he wants to. I couldn’t figure out why, but he just wouldn’t let me walk.”

Assuming Hans’ nose had caught wind of something in a bag, Helen set them down, hoping that at least finding the source of his preoccupation could help get them on their way.

Without hesitation, Hans scooped up the handle to one of the bags in his mouth, and proudly trotted towards the door. Helen was certain he was hungry. Turns out Hans just wanted to help.  

Whether there’s cargo or not, Hans’ need to help shoulder the load quickly became a habit.

“I always need to have something for him to take up. A glove, scarf, hat –  something.”

Even if it does add a little extra slobber clean-up to Helen’s day, it’s an expectation of Hans’ that she’s more than happy to meet head on.

Helen & Hans’ story is part of Mutt Jackson’s THE JUST LOVE PROJECT – our blog series dedicated to celebrating the extraordinary bonds that exist between humans and their dogs. Every Wednesday, we’ll be sharing a new piece – be sure to subscribe to our newsletter so that you don’t miss an installment! And, if you or someone you know think you have a tale to tell, please shoot us an email at ILuvMutts@MuttJackson.com – we’d love to hear from you!