Hank the #BallparkPup is more than a story of a rescued dog

hankHank’s popularity has taken off. He has been featured on television news stories, front page of newspapers, in InTouch and People Magazine and even has his own hashtag –  #BallparkPup.

Once a homeless stray in Maryvale, Hank has become the darling mascot of the Milwaukee Brewers. So why is the public so taken with Hank?

  • Dogs get your attention: According to the most recentAmerican Humane Association, 62% of U.S. households own a pet, and dogs top the list as the most common household pet. So a majority of people connect to Hank’s story, and are interested in learning more.
  • Dogs = Trust: Everyone knows the unconditional love provided by a dog. They accept you, flaws and all – no judgment.
  • Dogs engage emotion:  Unconditional love makes people feel accepted, reduces loneliness and improves mood.

The reasons Hank has become so popular (and so quickly) are much the same reasons dogs are so effective in pet therapy. They have outstanding ability to sense human emotions – and find ways to subtly comfort in times of sadness. Initially used in a mental health facility in the 1700s, and then again by the American Red Cross in military convalescent care after World War II, pets as therapeutic partners is a valued approach today in both the physical and psychosocial arenas.

Research has demonstrated that pets lower anxiety and blood pressure levels and can elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine, which calm and relax,  Aurora Psychiatric Hospital has incorporated pet visits very successfully. The pet visits open doors and reach patients in ways humans sometimes can’t.  Currently 9 pet teams visit with patients 4 times each week, reaching over 200 patients every month. Most of the teams include certified therapy dogs, but there is even a certified therapy bunny, Betsy. Patients’ reactions are quite positive and they look forward to the pet visits. Benefits to patients and staff are numerous. Withdrawn patients open up. Happy memories are re-lived. Depression lessens. Self esteem increases. Patients get better.

Hank represents much more than the story of a rescued dog. He is a connection to our hearts.

There is light On September 13, Aurora Psychiatric Hospital will celebrate 130 years of providing quality behavioral health care in our community. Learn more about Sponsorship opportunities for this event. 


Aurora Behavioral Health Services offers complete mental health treatment options, provided by highly trained professionals in a caring, confidential manner to meet individual and family needs. If you or someone you know needs help, contact us — online or by phone at 1-877-666-7223 — as soon as possible.

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