Two warm and fuzzy articles about service and therapy animals.
Two years after Taylor Swift donated $10,000 to a 5-year-old boy with autism for a therapy dog, the Grammy winner had a big surprise for his family.
On Saturday, the 28-year-old singer gifted front-row seats and backstage passes to Jacob Hill, 8, for her NRG Stadium show in Houston. The young fan and his service dog, Reid, shared the special moment with his mother, Allison Hill and sister, Jordan Fox.
“Taylor Swift was so kind. She said Reid was a big puffball and so cute. She was especially awesome with Jacob. She didn’t see my son’s disability she just saw him,” Allison shared in a Facebook post for Autism Speaks. “She got on her knees and looked him right in the eyes and said hello and she was thankful HE came to her show even though she knew it was loud and there was so much going on.”
Allison was particularly impressed by Swift’s ability to make her son feel welcome and called her an “autism advocate.”
“He grabbed her face and pulled her hair back and said ‘Hi Taylor!’ which was something we were working on all week, but didn’t know if he would be able to say it,” she wrote of the pair’s sweet interaction.
“After the picture was taken, the flash scared him so he snuggled right up to her and her sweet smile says it all. My daughter, Jordan, was pumped to meet her. We feel so blessed! Taylor is such an amazing person for doing this for us…again! Jacob made it through almost the entire concert.”
The meeting was made possible after Swift discovered Jacob’s 12-year-old sister and cousin Makaylee Duhon’s cover of her hit, “Blank Space,” in 2016.
The clever pair changed the lyrics and sang, “We got a long list of donations / But we don’t see your name / We got a blank space baby / So donate today.”
Nearly a month after the video was posted on Jacob’s GoFundMe page, the “Delicate” singer and her mother, Andrea Swift donated $10,000 with the message, “Jacob, we hope you love your new dog! Please tell your cousins that they did a great job on the song! Love, Taylor and Andrea Swift.”
Since receiving his service dog in June, Jacob has been able to walk in grocery stores, cross busy streets and avoid dangerous situations.
A month after her son received his service dog, Allison wrote the open letter, “Dear Taylor Swift, Your Gift for My Son on the Autism Spectrum Changed His Life.”
In the letter, she thanked Swift for “the priceless gift of a best friend” and detailed her son’s progress.
Airports across the country have started to employ therapy animals to help stressed travelers deal with delays, jet lag and layovers.
Dogs and pigs have been highlighted taking on the cuddly job, but Xeli is the first airport therapy cat we’ve heard of.
The chill tabby is part of Denver International Airport’s Canine Airport Therapy Squad (CATS), which, despite the name, didn’t put its first cat on staff until last year. CATS is the largest airport therapy animal program in the country, according to the Petco Foundation; Xeli is joined by more than 100 certified therapy dogs, who help spread cheer and smiles across terminals.
Xeli became part of the team in October 2017 after being certified by Pet Partners.
The patient 12-lb. feline works two-hour shifts at the airport. With help from her human companions, Xeli offers pats, purrs and hugs to any traveler who needs a break from the tension of air travel.
Xeli’s work as a mood elevator has earned her recognition from the Petco Foundation, which dubbed the kitty a Helping Hero.
With a goal to raise more than $2.3 million in Petco locations and online, the Helping Heroes campaign supports the incredible organizations that train and support these animals to improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of people each and every day.
Next time you are traveling through Denver International Airport you can find this furry sanity-savior by checking the airport’s Twitter feed. Xeli’s shifts and location are posted on the account.
She’ll be the cat in the blue “Pet Me” vest.