Hanky Panky: The big dog with the big heart
What is white and gray, 124 pounds and sure to be the center of attention everywhere he goes? His name is Hank “Hanky Panky” Roberts, and he is a Saint Berdoodle, which is half Saint Bernard and half Standard Poodle.
Owner Shawn Roberts first saw a Saint Berdoodle while on vacation in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and instantly fell in love with the breed. In 2017, Shawn found a breeder in Spokane, Washington, and brought Hank home to Greensboro. Shawn said the name “Hank” just seemed to fit his new dog.
“Most of the time, we just call him Hanky Panky,” Shawn said.
Shawn said Hank is a certified therapy dog who regularly visits Hospice Home at High Point.
“My wife works at [Hospice Home at High Point]. People that were dying, the way they were smiling, it is like it wakes them up,” Shawn said about Hank visiting hospice patients.
“It is hard, but it is rewarding,” Michelle Roberts said of her job at Hospice Home. “You get to help patients and their families during their hardest time of life, the end of life. You get to be there to help them feel better and be supportive.”
Shawn and Michelle also have two toy poodles named Stella and Bella, who get along with their brother Hank very well. Shawn said he bought Hank as an emotional support animal for Michelle, who has depression.
“I have depression in my family anyways,” Michelle said. “When we got him, I think [Shawn] got him for me to see if he would help. I didn’t think it would because I have never been a dog person.”
But after getting Hank, Michelle said he changed her life. She said Hank has filled a void and keeps her busy because she works from home by day. Shawn said Michelle suggested that he take Hank to visit the hospice patients and their families to brighten up their day. She said that when Hank comes around, everybody (patients and staff) smiles and is happy to see him.
“It really makes everyone’s day,” she said. “Family members come out of the rooms, it just makes them smile and gives them a little bit of happiness. The patients (the ones that can interact with him) enjoy him too, they are like ‘oh my goodness he is so big and so pretty.’”
Shawn said that Hank doesn’t mind the attention. In fact, if Shawn is on the phone, Hank will come over and try to knock the phone out of his hand just to get more attention.
“It is the only dog I have ever seen that requires attention like crazy, and he tries to be a lap dog, but it does not work that way,” Shawn said with a chuckle.
“He follows me everywhere I go; wherever you are at, he has to be,” Michelle said. “He is very loyal.”
Shawn said that he enjoys having a big dog who brings smiles to others’ faces, but there are some challenges and big responsibilities that go along with it. Because of his size, Shawn said, Hank has to get bathed every week and sometimes even two times a week. Shawn said he loves to take Hank to get bathed at Dirty Dogs Self Service Dog Wash and Grooming in Greensboro.
“He can’t be done anywhere else but Dirty Dogs,” Shawn said.
Dirty Dogs’ owner Tamra Dick said that bathing Hank is a “pure joy” for her.
“He will go straight to the tub and get right in the tub, and he knows what is going to happen and what he needs to do,” she said. “He is so easy. I hand-wash him and from head to toe, and he will sit through the whole process. He is great. Blowing him out takes like almost an hour, and he is so patient, he has got the most patience of any dog I know. He is absolutely fantastic.”
When Hank is out in public, just like when I saw him last Friday at Dirty Dogs, everyone is drawn to him like a magnet. While I was photographing Hank, four people walked in and immediately gawked at Hank’s size, asked what kind of dog he was and asked to pet him or take pictures of him.
Shawn said he made Hank a Facebook page so that people can friend him and look at all of his pictures.
“I don’t push it much; I let people ask,” Shawn said. “I keep it private for people who like dogs, and want to keep up with him.”
To see more of Hank, send him a Facebook friend request at www.facebook.com/hankroberts.roberts.
Katie Murawski is the editor of YES! Weekly. She is from Mooresville, North Carolina and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in journalism with a minor in film studies from Appalachian State University in 2017.