#069: Brian’s heart for helping kids with Magnus the Therapy Dog

by | February 6, 2023 | Therapy Dog Talk

Therapy Dog Talk - Brian + Magnus

Brian and his pup Magnus the Therapy Dog give back by bringing comfort to critically and terminally ill children.

In this 69th episode of Therapy Dog Talk, I chat with Brian Benson and his amazing Yellow Labrador, Magnus, known around the world as Magnus the Therapy Dog. We dive into their inspiring journey as a volunteer team with the Good Dog Foundation in New York, and how they’ve touched the lives of many terminally and critically ill children.

Brian shares the heartwarming story of how Magnus joined their family to help his daughter with her daily injections for arthritis. He talks about Magnus’ innate ability to comfort others and how it inspired him to share Magnus’ gift with those in need.

We discuss their incredible experiences visiting hospitals and other locations, where they bring joy and normalcy to the lives of children and adults facing difficult challenges. Brian also shares a touching story from their first visit as a therapy dog team, where they brought a smile to someone who hadn’t smiled in weeks.

When the COVID-19 lockdown began, Brian and his family took their mission online, starting an Instagram account for Magnus as a way to continue giving back. The account went viral, and now they’re also on TikTok, YouTube, Facebook, Snapchat, and Pinterest!

We also explore the important role of Magnus as Brian’s service dog, helping him manage his seizure disorder. We discuss how Magnus switches between his roles as a therapy dog, service dog, and beloved family pet.

In this episode, you’ll gain valuable insights on training your dog, teaching them impressive tricks, and building strong connections with the people you visit. Brian shares his advice for those interested in becoming a therapy dog team and emphasizes how rewarding the work can be.

After listening to this episode, you’ll walk away with a deeper understanding of the joys and challenges of volunteering with a therapy dog, as well as valuable insights on how to prepare your four-legged companion for this rewarding work.

In this episode, we discuss …

  • Why Magnus initially joined Brian’s family.
  • How Brian’s experiences with hospitals have fueled his passion to volunteer.
  • What it’s been like to further their impact online.

Key moments you won’t want to miss:

Note that the timecodes match the video, not the podcast.

  • [01:15] Magnus joined Brian’s family to help his daughter with her arthritis injections and showed his natural ability to comfort others from day one.

  • [03:32] Brian shares how bringing Magnus to work helped relieve stress for his coworkers, showing his potential as a therapy dog.

  • [04:49] Brian and Magnus focus on visiting hospitals, schools for children with emotional issues, nursing homes, and community crisis centers.

  • [06:21] On their first therapy visit, Brian and Magnus brought a smile to someone who hadn’t smiled in weeks and only had days left to live.

  • [08:24] During the COVID-19 lockdown, Brian started an Instagram account for Magnus, which unexpectedly went viral. Now they’re also on TikTok, YouTube, Facebook, Snapchat, and Pinterest.

  • [11:14] Magnus is also Brian’s service dog, helping him manage his seizure disorder, and demonstrating his ability to switch roles between therapy dog, service dog, and family pet.

  • [15:07] Brian reminisces about training Magnus when he first joined their family and teaching him a variety of impressive tricks.

  • [17:49] Brian talks about the helpful commands they use during therapy visits, like touch, face, and close.

  • [19:37] Brian shares the humbling experience of being recognized by fans and encourages people to come say hi if they spot them.

  • [23:23] Brian offers advice for those interested in becoming a therapy dog team, emphasizing the rewarding nature of the work and sharing their experience with The Good Dog Foundation.

I hope you enjoy this episode as much as I do. Give it a watch or a listen and then let me know in the community which part you found the most helpful!

Mentioned in this episode:

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Therapy Dog Talk is a podcast where I interview a different team each week via Instagram Live. If you enjoyed this episode please find us over at Apple, Google, or Spotify and give us a follow after you leave a review.

Do you know someone who would make a great guest? Be sure to reach out and let me know.

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