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Every dog has his purpose – Finnegan’s is bringing joy to patients

A yellow lab’s smile brings delight to St. Croix Valley hospitals

Finnegan is well known at Hudson Hospital & Clinic and Westfields Hospital & Clinic. In 2011, he joined the hospitals’ pet therapy programs with his owner Bob Molenda. And this February, the Minnesota Veterinary Medical Association named Finnegan their 2016 Companion Animal of the Year.

Finnegan’s vet nominated him for the honor. She wrote: “He is a 7-year-old yellow Labrador retriever who does not like water. He does not like to get his paws dirty. But what he does like are people. He has a special talent for working with kids and individuals with disabilities. Finnegan has made more than 350 hospital visits and has touched many lives.”

Finnegan wins the 2016 Companion Animal of the Year Award

At Hudson Hospital & Clinic, Finnegan brightens days in the medical-surgical unit and in the cancer center.

“Finnegan is known for lying down to get belly rubs. And his owner Bob brings wonderful conversation and a kind heart. We really couldn’t ask for better pet therapy volunteers. They are a perfect duo,” Hudson Volunteer Coordinator Rosa Magnus said.

Bob got Finnegan as a puppy. He had recently lost an older, active dog. And he found that Finnegan had a much lower energy level. That frustrated Bob at times. But a dog trainer told him to have patience with his new friend.

Pet therapy program volunteers Bob Molenda and Finnegan

“She believed every dog has his purpose,” Bob said. “She said my job was to find out what his purpose was. We finally came upon the therapy dog course – and that’s definitely his purpose.”

When they are volunteering, Bob says it can sometimes take an hour to get from the main hospital entrance to the inpatient area. That’s because patients and visitors in the waiting areas want to stop and greet Finnegan.

“It’s amazing to see the faces of patients and staff light up when Bob and Finn stop by,” said Courtney Brunner, a social worker at Westfields. “The power of pet therapy is huge. It contributes greatly to a patient’s well-being and recovery time.”

Are you interested in volunteering with HealthPartners, too?

Find out more about our pet therapy programs, other opportunities and the perks of volunteering at:

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