Service dog Anthem wore many hats, helped many people

Welcome across the Rainbow Bridge, Anthem.

Thirteen-year-old Anthem Holman, of Negaunee, passed away at home after a brief illness on Saturday. He was born on Aug. 26, 2012, in Iowa and raised by Tammi and Tessa DeJong to be a service dog for Paws and Effect.

“All of his litter went to military veterans and active service members that could benefit from having a service dog,” Jessica Holman, human sister to Anthem and librarian at Negaunee Public Library, said.

She said while Anthem was still in training, he found her father, Joe Holman, and became inseparable.

“Before my dad and Anthem were paired, my dad had been at an event, and his motion disorder made it so that he would typically sit on the floor because he would be twitching so badly,” Jessica Holman said. “Anthem was 10 or 11 months old at the time there with another service dog and he narrowed in on my dad and just flopped down on his lap and calmed my dad down so he wasn’t having his tremors anymore.”

Joe Holman suffered a carotid dissection, tearing of the lining in the carotid artery, while in the military, according to Jessica Holman, which led to getting a service dog to help with his motion disorder.

“He needs to keep his blood pressure lower so that he doesn’t have an aneurysm,” Jessica Holman said. “And so that was a huge factor in getting Anthem because that dog was great for helping not just my dad, but anyone that was having an upsetting time calm down and lower their blood pressure.”

After signing up to get a service dog, Joe Holman was contacted by Paws and Effect prior to the training for the dogs and their owners.

“The organization contacted him and said, ‘We feel like you and Anthem already have a connection and would be good for each other, so come down a little early and we’ll make sure that you two are the right ones for each other,’ and yes, they were,” Jessica Holman said.

But Anthem didn’t just help Joe Holman. Through reading programs, Anthem helped many children find their confidence in reading skills.

“Anthem was pretty popular. He also helped my dad tutor a little boy who was struggling a bit with reading. We had a tutoring program this summer as part of summer reading and the little boy was very shy and uncertain about tutoring, but since he got paired with Anthem it made everything better.”

Outside his time at the Negaunee Public Library, Anthem helped Joe Holman substitute teach at schools, most notably North Star Montessori Academy.

“Anthem was a huge help in that (substitute teaching),” Jessica Holman said. “He would walk into a classroom and go ‘That student is having a really bad day,’ or ‘He or she is really going through something,’ and he would go right over to that student and love them.”

Losing a beloved pet is a difficult time for anyone, but losing an animal as special as Anthem is even harder. One thing we are certain of though, heaven just got itself a very experienced reading assistant.


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