SANTA CLARA (KRON) — The most popular member of the 49ers has never taken a snap on the football field.
She prefers a variety of other pastimes.
“She loves playing with balloons, we blow balloons up in here a lot,” Austin Moss said. “She’ll almost play volleyball with the guys and hit ’em back and forth, and then she loves treats, so we keep the treats around, and we’re working on doing shake, sit lay down, all those things.”
Meet Zoe — she’s a 1-year-old French bulldog who spends her days at Levi’s Stadium as the 49ers’ official emotional support dog, the first of her kind in the league.
“When I’m in a mood or anything, I just like to go and play with her,” Solomon Thomas said. “Kind of erases my mind, I kind of just think about, ‘wow, this is a little dog’, getting to go have some fun, and relax, and mentally refresh.”
Defensive lineman Solomon Thomas played a huge part in Zoe’s arrival.
After spending several days at the facility with a staff member’s visiting pup, Thomas persuaded director of player engagement Austin Moss to find a full-time furry companion.
“I knew that he had just gone through a really tragic experience with losing his sister, so it was just really cool to see him get as much joy as he did coming into the office,” Moss said. “And I knew that it was having a good impact, having a dog here.”
“She just kind of helps me get my mind off stuff I don’t need to be thinking about,” Thomas said. “Or negative things I don’t want to be thinking about, yeah she’s just really instrumental in helping me just kinda mentally relax and refresh.”
While Xoe hasn’t undergone any specific training, she does have her emotional support dog certification.
And Moss says the benefits to having her around have been immediately evident.
“These guys are very strong powerful men that aren’t used to be able to express their emotions freely,” Moss said. “But when you come in here in a safe space, and you know that it’s just about being yourself and having a good time and getting some help that you may need — Zoe brings a lot of value to that.”
Especially for Thomas, who calls Zoe a best friend.
“I’m probably in there the most, I probably play with her the most,” he said. “She came over one time, so I feel like I have a special bond with Zo’, but yeah, I love her, she’s awesome.”