Pets As Therapy: Meet Emma And Hansie

Lorna Cowan meets Emma Tyreman and her dog Hansie, as they start their journey as volunteers with charity Pets As Therapy.

When you see photos of Emma Tyreman cuddling her beautiful eighteen-month old cocker spaniel Hansie, you wouldn’t believe that she was once terrified of dogs.

After being attacked by a friend’s pet, Emma suffered from post-traumatic stress syndrome and would cross the road to avoid being anywhere near a dog. Today, though, her world has been turned upside down – for the better – thanks to a loving four legged friend, and her two grandsons, Joshua and Matthew.

Indeed, seeing the difference Hansie has made to her life and that of her family, Emma, who lives in Oxford with her husband Colin, now wants to become a Pets As Therapy volunteer and help others.


What Happened To Make Emma Afraid Of Dogs.

“It was back in 2003 while at the house of friends that their dog, a rescue dog that they’d only had for a few months, attacked me,” Emma recalls. “I was saying goodbye to my friend’s granddad and had reached my arm out to place on his shoulder. The dog saw me, ran out from under a chair and gripped on to my thigh with his teeth.”

“As I tried to make him release his grip, he then went for my right hand.”

An emergency visit to the hospital followed, but while the physical scars healed over time, Emma was left emotionally traumatised and felt uncomfortable being anywhere near a dog.

Even when she saw an assistance dog helping a student at the college where she worked as a Disability Support Technician, Emma panicked.

“It sounds silly now, but I was so scared. I remember crying, as I knew assistance dogs were valuable companions, but I couldn’t hide my fear.”

She also felt very anxious when her twin grandsons, Joshua and Matthew, started school and the teacher announced she was bringing her dog, Zenzi, into the classroom.

“I was so worried about Josh getting close to the dog, despite the teacher trying to reassure me that Zenzi was OK.”

Therapy dogs can help people of all ages.

“Then Josh started talking about Diesel, a Pets As Therapy Dog that regularly visited the school, and how he loved library day when he could sit with Diesel and read to him.”

Emma adopted the two boys in 2011, and it’s been Josh and Matt, now twelve, who have helped her overcome her fear of dogs, by approaching them and showing her that they’re OK.

Along Came Hansie

The boys obviously did an amazing job, as in 2016 Emma started thinking about getting a pet dog for their home.

“Josh and Matt both have hearing difficulties, as well as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), so life is not without its ups and downs.”

“I felt having a dog would be good therapy for them, and for us as a family.”

Soon afterwards, the Tyremans welcomed home an eight-week-old cocker spaniel.

“I wanted to name him after my Austrian dad, whose middle name is Hans,” Emma says.

“Looking after a puppy was hard work at first, and I was very nervous if I saw another dog while out on our walks. However, Hansie was so good.”


Hansie as a puppy (with light green collar)

“He loves attention and being with people, so that helped me to start relaxing, and I found myself smiling a lot.

“People would chatter and get to know him each day on the school run. He became very popular.”

Spending time with other pet owners has also given Emma a lot more confidence around dogs.

“I’m still hesitant and wary sometimes, but that is a good thing.” She smiles. “I just love Hansie so much. I never appreciated the bond that is formed between an owner and their dog. Having Hansie has completely changed my life.”

“Now I want to do the same for others.”

Emma is determined to get involved with Pets As Therapy and is now in touch with the charity to find out how to become a volunteer.

“I want Hansie to make other people happy and share the love that he has brought to us.”

Read more about the PAT dogs in the third issue of every month – next in our December 8 issue, on sale December 5.


Georgia Wood

Georgia works as part of the magazine marketing team. She loves that her job is very varied, every day is different working across all of DCT Media's magazines. She likes trying new things, from cooking to crafting, she's currently learning to knit!