Davis Hawn said when he first met Booster, his golden labrador service dog, the animal was just a puppy, trapped in a car and near death. It was a mirror of his own life, because Hawn said he was at one of the lowest points in his life and he was contemplating suicide.
Both were near death, but both got a second chance.
Suffering from severe anxiety, battling alcohol abuse and contending with post-traumatic stress disorder, Hawn said he never knew that it would be this dog who saved his life — and in turn he would save Booster’s.
“He’s more than just a service dog; he’s my best friend, and I’m his,” Hawn told the students at The Providence School in Wilmore on Tuesday, Oct. 23. “He almost died three times, but he was meant to be here. No matter what higher power you believe in, there was a higher power at work in my life when I was introduced to Booster.”
It was a jarring presentation for the students, who were enthralled by Hawn’s words as he spoke about the struggles in his life and how by having an animal he has learned to deal with his issues and now travels the world to help others.
Some of the students were at first nervous by the arrival of a 90-pound animal roaming their halls but soon grew comfortable enough to pet and even play with Booster in the cafeteria.
“It’s the first time they’ve let a dog in the school in a long time since they had an incident many years ago,” said Anissa Sturgill, communication director for MediVet America in Nicholasville. “We had to work it out, but in the end it turned out to be a great success for everyone involved.”
Sturgill set up the meeting at The Providence School with Principal Denise Adams as part of Booster’s trip for a special treatment at the MediVet clinic in Nicholasville.
Booster, now 8 years old, got his name from the first time Hawn took him to a store and he “boosted” or stole something and ran out the door.
Hawn spent almost two hours with the students talking about his life and Booster and what they’re doing all around the world to spread their message of service animals’ healing power and ability to save lives.
After Hawn met Booster, he decided to attend school at the Bergin University of Canine Studies.
The pair now live in Mississippi, but Hawn and Booster travel a lot, teaching others that service dogs can help people with any number of physical or mental ailments.
For Hawn, Booster has even helped him with social interactions.
Booster can also bring him water from the refrigerator, retrieve things from his truck, answer the door and turn on lights.
“I never go anywhere without Booster, and he always goes in the house before me,” Hawn said. “In fact, I love him so much that I now have several other dogs at home.”
After the presentation in which Booster showed off his skills of opening doors and collecting key and medical bags, Hawn opened it up for questions. Afterwards Hawn said he has been many different places and to many different schools but The Providence School students had the best questions of him so far.
“I was amazed by the attentiveness of the kids and the caliber of the questions that the children asked,” Hawn said after the presentation. “I was also amazed by the attention the teachers give to those kids; there is a real sense of community there, and it was a wonderful experience for me and Booster, as well.