Meet Lou Ann, Chief Happiness Specialist. She is the newest Miller-Dwan Foundation staff member and therapy-dog-in-training, and she is bringing joy and smiles to the Essentia Health – Duluth campus.

Lou Ann came into our lives on March 2, 2019. Here’s what we know about her and where she came from: We saw her adorable face on and just knew she was our gal. She was adopted through Arrow’s Heart Rescue in Zimmerman, MN.

We’ve been told that she is a lab/boxer mix and that she is now close to six months old. We have our suspicions that there might be some other breeds involved here so we may investigate further. She was found in a trailer in less-than-ideal conditions in rural Arkansas, along with her siblings Desiree and Bobby Jo.

Lou Ann recently graduated from an eight-week puppy class at Dog Dynasty here in Duluth. She learned to sit, lay down, to walk nicely on a leash, and to come when she is called. This class uses games and play to build a strong bond between dog and owner while teaching basic social skills as well as using positive reinforcement methods to teach good behavior. There were 15 other puppies and their owners in the class, so it not only taught her to play well with other dogs but to also pay attention when needed. We learned that, much like the rest of us, she is highly motivated by food! She is now enrolled in an intermediate class at PetSmart – and the trainer’s name is LuAnn. It was meant to be, and they are the best of friends.

Here at the Miller-Dwan Foundation, we recognize pets as our partners in care. While there are challenges to having a puppy in the office, the rewards have been incredible to watch.  To see the stress melt away from someone’s face, or to see someone’s eyes light up when they see Lou Ann in the hallway is the reason she is here. Come and visit with her in the Miller-Dwan Foundation office and be sure to follow along on her journey on our Facebook and Instagram pages.

If you are interested in making a gift to the Animal-Assisted Therapy Fund, click here. Your gift will support the ongoing and expanded therapeutic use of animals in a variety of departments beyond mental health and physical rehabilitation.

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Together we will realize our shared vision of a community free from mental health crisis.