The San Francisco 49ers are on fire – but it’s their smallest teammate who’s stealing the spotlight.
Zoë, a French bulldog tasked with providing emotional support, is spreading joy among the team with her infections smile and fun-loving personality.
It’s a welcome change of pace for a squad that’s more accustomed to dishing out jarring tackles than super sweet snuggles.
Here are 5 pawsome facts about Zoë:
Zoë is the NFL’s first emotional support dog
When Zoë was adopted in October 2018, she became the NFL’s first “specifically designated” emotional support animal, a 49ers spokesperson told CNN.
The 1-year-old puppy helps raise players’ spirits and relieve stress by providing them with a cheerful break and unconditional love.
“The players rely on Zoë to brighten their day,” the spokesperson said. “Meetings, practice, and workouts can make for a long day. Zoë acts as a stress reliever.”
Solomon Thomas encouraged the team to adopt her
When a 49ers employee was puppy sitting a French bulldog named Vito, the team immediately fell for him.
“Vito was at the facility every day for training camp in 2018 and players gravitated towards him,” the spokesperson said.
That’s when defensive lineman Solomon Thomas started pushing Austin Moss II, the 49ers’ director of player engagement, to adopt a dog for the team, reported CNN affiliate KRON.
“I knew that he had just gone through a really tragic experience with losing his sister, so it was just really cool to see him get as much joy as he did coming into the office,” Moss said of Thomas. “And I knew that it was having a good impact, having a dog here.”
Moss is Zoë’s official owner.
She spends most of her time at the training facility
Zoë spends most of her time lounging around at the team’s training facility near Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California.
When she’s not cuddling with her teammates, Zoë loves playing with balloons and eating treats, according to KRON.
She doesn’t accompany the team on away games, but is always excited to greet them when they return.
At night, Zoë goes home with Moss.
Zoë dreams of one day going pro
Like a true Niner, Zoë is working hard to raise her game.
She’s already a registered emotional support animal, but has aspirations to be even more.
“We are in the process of seeking official training as a therapy dog,” the spokesperson said.
According to the US Dog Registry, emotional support dogs offer “comfort and support in forms of affection and companionship.” As a therapy dog, Zoë will be able to lend her talents to hospitals, senior homes and others in dire need of snuggles.
You can follow Zoë’s adventures on Instagram
It’s easy to see why Zoë has captured the hearts of players. And with her own Instagram page, @the49ersfrenchie, she’s capturing the hearts of thousands of her own fans.
Run by Moss, Zoë’s account features photos of her with the 49ers, including Mike McGlinchey, Azeez Al-Shaair and Thomas, who helped name her.
Zoë is also pictured with some of her furry friends, Turbo, Dice and Shoobie.