Erin Novakowski showcases the ways her service dog, Gevin, helps her with daily tasks. (@wheelierin/TikTok)
In September, TikTok user Erin Novakowski posted a TikTok video featuring her service dog, Gevin. Since then, the clip has garnered more than 844,000 views and 213,000 likes.
In the video, Novakowski — who has spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) — demonstrates some of the ways “smart boy” Gevin helps her in daily life — including with her power wheelchair, which she refers to as “The Whip.” Following the commands “Bump,” “Hand,” and “Pick it up,” Gevin shows how he can help Novakowski push her left arm back on her chair’s armrest after slipping, raise her right arm after falling in her lap, and pick up dropped items (in this case, a set of keys) from the floor.
Responding to “Tuck” and “Pull,” Gevin also demonstrates helping Novakowski pull her sleeves down when they are pushed too high up and opening her dorm room’s door by pulling on a rope attached to its handle.
“He’s a very good boy, and I love him very much,” concluded Novakowski, “and he gives me a lot of independence.”
Novakowski, 19, is one of many people with limited mobility due to SMA who rely on service dogs for help with everyday tasks. Service dogs like Gevin have been specially trained to assist people with all kinds of disabilities in completing tasks related to their disability, including retrieving items, providing wheelchair assistance, and assisting with household tasks.
A university student and writer, Novakowski is unapologetic about her disability and frank with those who criticize her opinions or content. In response to those who have deemed her an “inspiration,” she said in a video posted to her TikTok account, “It is not inspirational that I own a dog or have cool makeup or sleep or breathe. I am just a university student. I have bad habits and am not a perfect, innocent person just because I’m disabled.”
Novakowski is also a social media editor, video editor, and staff writer for Cripple Media — a Generation-Z-run media company “where young disabled creatives can shift the lens disabled people are viewed — into something more honest, accurate, impactful, and youthful.”
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