A yellow lab’s smile brings delight to patients at Hudson Hospital & Clinic and Westfields Hospital & Clinic.
The Minnesota Veterinary Medical Association named Finnegan its Companion Animal of the Year at its 2017 convention.
He is well known at Hudson and Westfields since joining the hospitals’ pet therapy programs with owner Bob Molenda in 2011.
“Bob and Finnegan are a wonderful duo. They brighten the days of our patients in the medical-surgical unit and in the cancer center,” says Hudson Volunteer Coordinator Rosa Magnus. “Finnegan is known for lying down to receive belly rubs. Bob couldn't be a better pet therapy volunteer with wonderful conversation and a kind heart.”
Finnegan’s vet nominated the yellow lab for the honor. She wrote: “He is a seven-year-old yellow Labrador retriever who does not like water and does not like to get his paws dirty. What he does like are people. He has a special talent for working with kids and handicapped individuals… Finnegan has had over 350 hospital visits and has touched many lives.”
Owner Bob got Finnegan as a puppy. He’d recently lost an older, active dog. He found Finnegan was much lower energy. That frustrated him at times until a dog trainer told him to have patience with his new friend.
“She believed every dog has his purpose,” recalls Bob, who lives in Stillwater. “She said my job was to find out what his purpose was. We finally came upon a therapy dog course – and that was his purpose.”
Bob says it can sometimes take him and Finnegan an hour to get from the main hospital entrance to the inpatient area. That’s because waiting patients and visitors want to stop and greet Finnegan and talk.
Courtney Brunner, Social Worker at Westfields, says, "It's amazing to see patient and staff faces light up when Bob and Finn stop by to visit. The power of pet therapy is huge and contributes greatly to a patient’s well-being and recovery time."
To find out more about volunteer opportunities at HealthPartners, including our pet therapy program, visit: healthpartners.com/hp/about/volunteer