Therapy dog brings joy to local hospital patients

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Penny is a busy chocolate lab. Two to three times a week, you’ll find this therapy dog at a hospital visiting staff and patients or even helping kids at a vaccine event.

"Penny came to us because the owner had a sudden heart attack and none of the people in his family could take care of her," Greg Schoen said. "His daughter brought her over – we took her for a test drive and she fell in love with us and we fell in love with her."

Now you’ll often find Penny roaming the halls in hospitals across the Metro.

"Instead of telling her ‘Down’ I tell her to ‘Melt’," Schoen said, "because she’s chocolate but she’s so cold right now she’ll turn into a pupsicle."

Together, they bring laughter and positivity to healthcare workers and patients.

"When she sees my uniform and the fanny pack, right away she knows, ‘Okay, it’s time to go’," explained Schoen. "Some of the staff know Penny and they call them down the hallway, ‘Oh Penny! Come and visit!’ and we take off running down the hall to go and visit them."

For some, Penny is even a reminder of home.

"Some of them are traveling nurses and they’ll say that they left their dog at their home," Schoen said.

While Penny sure is a professional, she can get a little sassy once in a while.

"We got to keep an eye out for walkers with tennis balls when we go visiting in the medical facilities," Schoen said.