This is Guinness.
He’s a 7-year-old Greater Swiss Mountain dog. He also happens to be a certified therapy dog.
Just like you and I, Guinness goes to work every week. His job is to make people happy, which is something he happens to be an expert at.
Today Guinness is paying a visit to Levine Children’s Hospital, where he regularly volunteers. He has a badge and everything.
Right when he walks through the doors, employees recognize him by name. It’s like hanging out with a celebrity.
After a drink of water (the walk from the parking lot was hot, long and he’s got a ton of fur), we head up to the patient rooms. You can tell Guinness is excited to see the kids as he pulls his owner, Niki, along.
The minute we walk into the first patient room, you can see why Guinness was eager to get upstairs.
The kids’ faces absolutely light up.
At 137 lbs., Guinness can seem a little intimidating at first but the kids quickly see he’s nothing but a gentle giant.
Room after room, Guinness brings smiles.
And he’s not just a hit with the kids. He’s quite popular with the nurses as well.
Following him through the hospital, you’d be amazed at how well-behaved he is and that’s not by accident. Guinness’s owner, Niki McKernan, started training him to be a therapy dog when he was just a puppy. It took him a total of 13 months to complete training.
During that time, he had to learn to sit politely (and stay), come when called, to refuse food from strangers, leave food on the ground, get used to loud noises, walk with a wheelchair and much more. You can view the requirements for certification, here.
His training comes in handy at the hospital, where there are tons of distractions.
Outside of the hospital, Guinness is simply a dog but here he stands for something more than that – hope, joy, and maybe just a small glimpse of normalcy.
It’s important work and, somehow, you can tell Guinness is aware of that.
At the end of the day, Guinness is exhausted. How does he like to unwind? By curling up for a long nap under his monkey blanket.
(Note: This content was co-created with Levine Children’s Hospital.)