Pet Turned Therapy Dog Helps Family Cope with the Realities of Chronic Disease

When the Benson family first adopted Magnus, they had no idea how he would change their family for the better. He was originally supposed to be a service dog, but he failed the training program, so the Bensons took him in, only expecting him to be a pet and nothing more.

What they got, however, was a therapy dog who helped both his human sister and his human dad through some very scary chronic illnesses.

Photo: Instagram/magnusthetherapydog

When the elder Benson daughter, Riley, was 11 years old, she was diagnosed with juvenile arthritis, a chronic disease characterized by joint inflammation and sometimes causing permanent joint damage. To combat this disease, Riley had to undergo regular injections, which caused her pain and anxiety.

At the time, Magnus had no training as a therapy dog, but he did have a natural sense of empathy. When he saw Riley crying in fear and pain, he automatically knew to lie down beside her and put his head in her lap to comfort her. Riley’s dad, Brian, was astounded by the change the dog made in his daughter. The tears stopped, her breathing slowed, and the entire course of treatment for her chronic illness became much more bearable for the entire family.

Photo: Instagram/magnusthetherapydog

That was when Brian first began to think about training Magnus as a therapy dog. And the idea turned out to be a fantastic one, not just for the people Magnus would help, but also for Magnus – and later for Brian.

Magnus has now been doing therapy dog work for more than five years, visiting people to help comfort them during times of illness, stress, and grief. When COVID shut down the world, he stopped doing in-person work so much but continued to perform in videos on Instagram in order to provide calming and de-stressing entertainment for people in stressful situations.

Photo: Instagram/magnusthetherapydog

Brian thought that was more or less the end of the story. What else could Magnus possibly have up his sleeves to surprise the family with?

Then one day, Brian began having chest pains and was brought to the hospital, where he was diagnosed with heart failure. Luckily, because Magnus was a licensed therapy service dog by that point, he was allowed to visit his owner in the hospital, staying with him for three days and encouraging him to get better.

It was Maagnus’s constant presence and comfort that helped Brian recover and make the lifestyle changes he needed to make to hopefully live a good long life even with his condition. This dog has saved his family from health tragedies not once but twice, and he continues to help other families in similarly difficult situations.

Now Magnus works in hospitals with people who are critically and even terminally ill. You can see that Magnus clearly enjoys his work, and we hope he’s got several more years left to be able to help people.

Check out the video below tp learn more about Magnus’s amazing story.

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