When Shane Koch was only 8 years old, he was diagnosed with Tourette’s Syndrome. He suffers from verbal and physical tics that are out of his control. In an interview with NBC LX, Shane admitted, “The worst part about Tourette’s is bullies and school.” All his life, Shane can recall being bullied by both classmates and teachers, and struggled with being treated fairly. But then, in December of 2019, Shane decided to rescue a puppy from a shelter, and both of their worlds changed forever.
When Shane took a trip to the Justin Bartlett Animal Rescue in Royal Palm Beach, he met Callum and the two bonded immediately. Callum was one of only two puppies that had survived from a seven puppy litter, but while Shane thought he was saving Callum from the shelter, he had no idea how Callum would save him.
As the two grew closer together, Shane’s confidence began to grow. Soon, the incredibly insightful Callum began picking up on Shane’s tics. “He notices when I do the tics, he’ll nudge me. He can literally sense when I do those tics and as I feel it coming and a lot of that stress will go away.”
Callum’s presence and comfort has helped Shane control many of his tics. Shane explains that a dog doesn’t need to be a trained service or therapy dog to bring comfort to their human companions, saying “Ever since I got Callum in December, [the tics] are totally gone.” By keeping Shane distracted and busy through play time and love and affection, Callum is able to help Shane control his Tourette’s in a way he was never able to do before.
Seeing the positivity that Callum brought to his world, Shane felt he had to share the pup with everyone else. He turned to TikTok and soon his videos of Callum took off, with his first video gaining over 500,000 views. Since starting their TikTok account in the beginning of 2020, the duo have gathered 1.4 million followers.
Shane hopes to continue to use his platform and following to spread joy with Callum, as well as spread awareness about his Tourette’s. “I created the page to show awareness, to show that you are not different nor normal and it’s better to be weird than normal.” Shane’s posts always feature his furry best friend and range from funny skits to adorable, candid moments with Callum.