Dog from Oakland becomes new social media ambassador
Therapy dog Brixton and his owner Linda have recently become social media ambassadors for the San Francisco Walk to End Alzheimer’s. Brixton uses his star power on Instagram (@brixtonatlarge) to help promote the Walk and is looking forward strutting his stuff on Walk day.
Life as a therapy dog
Brixton is a seven-year-old Golden Retriever who spends his days as a therapy dog. Having been doing this since he was eight months old, Brixton helps children and adults alike. Whether he’s helping a child learn to read, providing encouragement to a college student during a final, or being a secure presence for someone afraid of airports, Brixton is the calming force they need.
Because of the pandemic, Brixton has been furloughed, which has been challenging for him. “He sees himself as an essential worker,” said Linda. “He needs to be there for people. It’s not like meeting a regular dog, it’s like a magical quality. When we meet people, they say, ‘This isn’t your average dog, he’s from another universe.’
“I call him the Dogi Lama. He walks in, and the whole temperature of the room comes down. Even now, we’re all in need of that human contact, and because we can’t touch each other, he’s sort of the next best thing. He’ll invariably pick the person who’s having a bad day, sit next to them and let them pet him.”
Right now, Brixton is still young and eager to play, but as he ages, Linda hopes that he’ll expand his therapy career to include visiting people living with dementia. “I had an older dog who worked with people who were living with dementia,” said Linda. “He would sit there, and it was like a lightbulb would go on. They would start petting him and remembering their dog. They’d tell stories from when they were children.”
Connecting with the Alzheimer’s Association®
Brixton also spends some of his spare time on social media, specifically Instagram. He has nearly 2,000 followers who are interested in what he’s been up to each day. Like many, the pandemic has forced Brixton to take a break from his usual duties.
When a Committee Member from the San Francisco Walk to End Alzheimer’s® reached out to Linda to ask if Brixton would be interested in becoming a social media ambassador for the Walk, Linda and Brixton were instantly onboard.
In preparation for the upcoming San Francisco Walk, Linda and Brixton have been doing some photo shoots. Brixton sports his Alzheimer’s Association hats and T-shirts (made for humans, but Brixton doesn’t mind). Linda says, “We don our purple and we want to help people get excited about Walk.
“During Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month, we had a lot of stuff to post. We’ll be posting the next month or so for the Walk too.”
Becoming a social media ambassador
Social media ambassadors play a key role in promoting Walk to End Alzheimer’s. They share information on Alzheimer’s disease, talk about why they are participating in Walk to End Alzheimer’s and invite others to join them. Brixton does just that.
“Brixton dictates how easy it is,” said Linda. “He’s engaging with the public 24/7 because of who and what he is. I try to follow suit by keeping up with his appearances and posts.”
Alzheimer’s and women
Alzheimer’s disease is one of the leading cause of death in California, with two-thirds of those people being women. Additionally, almost two-thirds of the 1.6 million caregivers in California are women. If you break it down even further, over one-third of caregivers of someone living with Alzheimer’s or other dementias are daughters.
Currently, Linda has two aunts with Alzheimer’s disease and worries that her mother has started to exhibit some of the early warning signs. “It’s a concern, it’s touching my family so directly,” shares Linda. “It’s something I feel we need to find a cure for.”
This year, Walk is different. We won’t be coming together as we have in the past but instead are asking people to Walk in their communities with their close friends and family, following CDC guidelines.
Linda and Brixton are excited about Walk day and will be walking around Lake Merritt in Oakland. “For now, it’s just the two of us,” said Linda. “We might recruit some friends, but Team Brixton will be there in full force.”
“Brixton has some swagger,” Linda shared. “He has quite the walk.” You can bet that Brixton will be sharing his photos and videos on Walk day. He may even be featured in our Walk photo gallery. Post your Walk photos on Instagram or Twitter, using the hashtags #Walk2EndAlz and #ENDALZ to be included in our gallery.