Bernie is a three-year-old golden doodle, which is a cross between a golden retriever and a poodle. To become a therapy dog, Bernie completed the Therapy Animal Program through Pet Partners and the Therapy Animal Handler course. Gagnon says Bernie will be recertified every two years.
During a one-hour shift on Thursdays, Gagnon and Bernie visit patients in need of a smile, a friendly chat or a discussion. Gagnon says his favorite part about volunteering with Paws Force is making someone’s day a little brighter with Bernie’s help.
“Dogs are nonjudgmental, calming and help get your mind off a bad day,” Gagnon says. “Bernie is a very important part of my life, and we hardly are ever separated. To be able to work with Bernie to help those in need is a truly amazing experience.”
Like Eugene, you, too, can volunteer at Mayo Clinic Health System on the Paws Force team. Therapy dogs must be friendly, well-behaved and complete several levels of obedience classes. Volunteers also are needed in other areas. You must be at least 14 years old to volunteer. All ability levels are welcome. Sign up to volunteer for Paws Force or any other area. For more information about Paws Force or other volunteer opportunities, call Volunteer Services:
- Barron: 715-537-6766
- Eau Claire: 715-838-3262
- Hospice: 715-464-5265
- Menomonie: 715-233-7314
- Osseo: 715-233-7314
- Rice Lake: 715-537-6766
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Mayo Clinic Health System consists of clinics, hospitals and other facilities that serve the health care needs of people in more than 60 communities in Georgia, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin. The community-based providers, paired with the resources and expertise of Mayo Clinic, enable patients in the region to receive the highest-quality health care close to home.
Press ContactDan Lea