Watch out football fans: the 49ers have a secret weapon in their clubhouse this season helping players to focus, relax, and lower their stress levels and blood pressure. Who is this magical emotional wellness coach? She’s a dog, of course! The San Francisco NFL team’s powerhouse is a 1-year-old French bulldog named Zoë. And she takes her job very seriously.
Meet Zoë, the 49er’s ‘cuddle coach’
Zoë’s dad is the 49ers’ director of player engagement, Austin Moss. Moss is busy supporting players at every stage of their career and providing access to training and resources for health and wellness, continuing education, and financial planning. Meanwhile, Zoë is always available in the clubhouse for a good snuggle, life-giving nap, or just a game of fetch with the players.
Dog owners can attest that even a few minutes of snuggle time or play can lift your mood in minutes. The health benefits of dog ownership are well-documented. Having Zoë ‘on staff’ to work her puppy mojo on players can turn a bad day around or help a player relax so they can focus at practice time.
General manager John Lynch tells The Athletic, “Every time I went by [Moss’ office], there were more and more players in there, and that’s a good thing,” Lynch said. “I mean, football is so all-in, to have a place for them to go and kind of unplug, that was a good thing. So I think I finally told our owner after a month. I said, ‘Hey, we kind of have this dog now and the guys really like it.’”
“We kind of have this dog now and the guys really like it.”
Player Solomon Thomas was instrumental in bringing brindle-and-white Zoë to the team. After the tragic loss of his sister and best friend, he found comfort spending time with a different Frenchie in the office from the same breeder as Zoë.
When a new litter became available, Solomon convinced Moss that a dog would be an asset to the team. His teammates to chipped in to bring Zoë into the fold as an unofficial team mascot.
Feeling the love
What’s next for Zoë? Getting professional training as a therapy dog so she can accompany players to events at schools and hospitals, of course.
Congrats to the 49ers on their awesome advocate Austin Moss and being committed to player mental health. How cool would it be if every NFL team had a support dog?
Follow Zoë on Instagram for more great photos and videos.
Hat Tip: The Athletic