When a Grandmother meets a Great Dane on a hiking trail, their unexpected connection will melt your heart.

Older couple Cal and Emma are greeted by Great Dane Kernel. (Courtesy ofAlyssa Berkovitz)

Seven years ago, Kernel the Great Dane came to Alyssa Berkovitz’s home to be trained as a therapy dog. Although Berkovitz did not intend to train him as her own service dog, she eventually did due to the trauma she experienced from losing her mother during childhood. While Kernel helped her heal, he also touched the lives of others, such as an elderly couple named Cal and Emma whom Berkovitz befriended while dog-hiking in Cat Rock Park last year. Despite some hesitancy towards a large group of dogs, Cal had a special connection with Kernel that seemed to bring the Great Dane back to life. Kernel has also visited bingo halls to visit older folks and hospitals to delight deaf children. He even adored Berkovitz’s grandmother before she passed away. Seeing Kernel and her grandmother together made the whole world seem right again for Berkovitz.

Emma enjoys time with

Kernel bonding with Cal and Emma has become a special and meaningful activity for everyone involved. Every week, Ms. Berkowitz and her crew take Emma for walks in the park, meeting an elderly lady who waits for them at the bench where Cal used to sit. The lady feels welcomed and enjoys their company. However, Emma suffered from a herniated disk several weeks ago and couldn’t walk as often, but she’s back on the trail now, albeit slower. Ms. Berkowitz said that Emma has celebrated her birthday and Mother’s Day with them, and the crew loves her and accepted her as “pack grandma.” Emma, 82, used to be a professional photographer and now enjoys taking photos of the fun-loving bunch on their outings. Ms. Berkowitz considers the whole experience wholesome and heartwarming, and a great opportunity for everyone to enjoy nature. She thoroughly enjoys her time with Emma.

(Left) Alyssa Berkovitz and Emma; (Right) Emma and the crew, including Kernel the giant Great Dane. (Courtesy ofAlyssa Berkovitz)

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