Sign In

Hero Therapy Dog

June 8, 2020

In February, Manitoba lost one of its best-known health-care workers.

Rusty the therapy dog, who put smiles on the faces of countless Manitobans over a decade of service at Winnipeg’s St. Boniface Hospital, died of cancer at age 17 on Feb. 17.  Despite the emotional task of saying goodbye to such a good boy, Rusty’s owner, George Ames, told 680 CJOB on Friday that he has some good news — news Rusty himself would approve of.

“Rusty has a new friend, a dog in training to try to fill Rusty’s shoes, and his name is Hero,” said Ames.

“Hero was born on Remembrance Day, hence his name, and he’s a wonderful four-year-old husky who has a demeanour that’s very rare among huskies.”

Ames said he didn’t want to buy a new dog that could have potentially come from a puppy mill, so he put an ad out on Kijiji for a dog with the right personality — one that he could check the background of.

After “all kinds of very nice offers,” Ames said he heard from a Selkirk, Man., woman with a small, certified breeding program for Siberian huskies.

Hero was her personal pet.

“When she read the ad, some compassion came from her soul and she said, ‘I have the dog for George to help others,’ and she gave us Hero,” he said.

“A lot of people thought Rusty was one in a million, and maybe he was. And maybe Hero is one in a thousand at the beginning of his career.

“He just came out of the womb a happy guy, I believe, and he is going to be special, let me tell you that.

Ames said he initially struggled with the idea of replacing his longtime companion, but with the growing acceptance of therapy dogs by both the public and institutions, he knew Rusty’s legacy had to go forward.

“Rusty had a tremendous number of fans. When he died, his Facebook page got almost half a million exposures of people sharing the story. We received over 800 comments on his Facebook page of people who wanted to tell their experiences.”

Register Your Dog

  • Most Recent News

    Former Victoria man’s diabetic alert dog helps him get back to life

    When Luke Hengen’s diabetes worsened in his early twenties, it stripped him of the outdoor activities where the country kid felt at home. Countless wilderness adventures and years of hard-fought football games took a toll on his body, to the point where he could no longer sense when his blood sugar was too high or […]

    Read more

    Students Get Therapy Dog

    When middle school students return to class on Jan. 11, they’ll find a new face at the door: Daisy. Daisy is a therapy dog and the personal pet of Rob Kreger, principal of the Rock L. Butler Middle School. The five-year-old golden retriever is not a school pet or mascot, but rather a working dog […]

    Read more

    Therapy Dogtor

    Last March, Caroline Benzel, a third-year medical student, began to notice the stress and discomfort her nurse friends were feeling from the pressures of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. “[Personal protective equipment] can be really rough on the skin,” Benzel, 31, tells PEOPLE. Benzel and her 3-year-old Rottweiler, Loki (who’s also a therapy dog) hatched a […]

    Read more

    Therapy Dog Pups

    When Stanley the miniature fox terrier’s owner passed away, the little dog started a ‘paw-some’ new role – bringing puppy love to some of the Gold Coast’s oldest residents. After Carinity Cedarbrook Diversional Therapist Julianne Staff adopted Stanley, he began visiting the aged care community at Mudgeeraba as a therapy dog. Therapy dogs help to […]

    Read more

    Puppy Cams

    A nonprofit is providing an unusual form of therapy for those on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic – puppy cams! “You spend five minutes with a puppy and try not to smile,” said registered nurse Robin Lingg Lagrone. Lingg Lagrone says watching little furballs wag their tails and prance on their paws helps […]

    Read more

    Pet Committee

    When Moore County’s school doors were abruptly closed earlier in 2020, two- and four-legged volunteers from the Moore County Citizens’ Pet Responsibility Committee (PRC) were in their 12th year of presenting a six-session Pet Responsibility Education Program for fourth-graders. The PRC quickly shifted gears and placed its program materials online as part of a home […]

    Read more