Devoted canine with an intuitive understanding of humans provides comfort to owner battling a severe heart condition in the hospital.

To look at him, you wouldn’t expect Brian Benson to be the keeper of a service dog. He works out seven days a week in his home gym, doesn’t drink, and is almost obsessive about clean eating. He’s health-conscious and successful.

Benson was, nevertheless, recently hospitalized with a serious heart condition, yet his service dog, Magnus, helped him in a big way throughout this ordeal. They shared plenty of warm, fuzzy cuddles in the hospital while the K9’s empathic ways lifted the owner’s depressed spirits. Magnus even inspired sympathy from strangers who would offer comfort and support from half a world away.

 Brian Benson and his service dog, Magnus. (Courtesy of Brian Benson and <a href="https://www.instagram.com/magnusthetherapydog/">magnusthetherapydog</a>)
Brian Benson and his service dog, Magnus. (Courtesy of Brian Benson and magnusthetherapydog)

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A video taken of the dog and owner embracing in a New York hospital has gone viral. Scenes of Magnus and Benson booping lips affectionately and playing games to kill the dreariness are endearing to a fault; the dog seems able to intuit his owner’s needs while emitting invisible, calm, soothing love medicine. The cute clip naturally went viral.

We’re pretty sure this video of the two will be the tenderest thing you’ll see on the internet all day.

(Courtesy of Brian Benson and magnusthetherapydog)

Though not young anymore, Benson is a fit fifty, who is quite conscientious about his health. He’s also successful, having run his own TV-film special effects company for the past 30-plus years. He lives just an hour north of Manhattan. But in late January, he started experiencing shortness of breath and symptoms related to his heart.

“My ankles were very swollen, very puffy. I thought maybe it was no big deal—I went to bed and I elevated them,” Benson told The Epoch Times. “The next morning, I noticed my legs were very swollen and puffy, and I went on the elliptical to work out at the gym in my house and I was very short of breath—my chest was heavy. It just was very heavy, very short of breath, and something just wasn’t right.”

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When he visited the ER that day, Friday, Jan. 20, he had a host of tests done. After seeing the results—and particularly since heart problems run in Benson’s family—the doctor said he better stay overnight. He would end up staying till Sunday.

 Magnus and Brian Benson during his stay in the hospital in late January 2023. (Courtesy of Brian Benson and <a href="https://www.instagram.com/magnusthetherapydog/">magnusthetherapydog</a>)
Magnus and Brian Benson during his stay in the hospital in late January 2023. (Courtesy of Brian Benson and magnusthetherapydog)

Now, Benson had already gotten Magnus, a 6-year-old yellow Lab, several years ago. He and his family had intended Magnus to be their family dog, but he showed promise as a therapy dog. As seen in said video, he exhibits extraordinary empathic traits. “I noticed early on he was very naturally empathetic. He knew how to read people, read emotions, then comfort them,” Benson said. “That’s why I trained him to become a therapy dog.”

After training Magnus to help others hospitalized, Benson developed a seizure disorder and so trained Magnus to be his service dog. Speaking of the therapeutic impact Magnus’s presence has, Benson said, “He’s just so calming, and just so relaxing. … I went into the hospital [and] my blood pressure was elevated, so having him lying in bed next to me just keeps everything calm.”

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The dog even made the nurses smile.

 

 Magnus comforts his ailing owner, Brain Benson, in the hospital in late January 2023. (Courtesy of Brian Benson and <a href="https://www.instagram.com/magnusthetherapydog/">magnusthetherapydog</a>)
Magnus comforts his ailing owner, Brain Benson, in the hospital in late January 2023. (Courtesy of Brian Benson and magnusthetherapydog)

Hospitals can be sterile, cold places for visitors—it’s a hospital after all. The dog’s presence was able to abate that and warm the atmosphere. “It’s not this warm, cozy, inviting environment,” Benson said. “Having [Magnus] with me just made a horrible situation so much better. It really did.”

After getting out, Benson was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, or a weak heart, meaning his heart has to work a lot harder than it’s supposed to, he said. This results in his having elevated blood pressure and often feeling out of breath and fatigued. Benson’s cardiologist recommended he see a cardiologist who specializes in advanced heart failure. “So, things are not looking that great, unfortunately,” Benson said.

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Looking on the bright side, though, having posted their video on his Instagram—displaying Magnus’s uncanny compassion—they received “thousands, and thousands, and thousands” of messages and comments from people across the globe. So, though dark clouds may still loom, at least he’s not alone. Benson has his family and Magnus, as well as a global community of followers cheering for him.

 

 Brian Benson, his family, and Magnus enjoying time together in the outdoors. (Courtesy of Brian Benson and <a href="https://www.instagram.com/magnusthetherapydog/">magnusthetherapydog</a>)
Brian Benson, his family, and Magnus enjoying time together in the outdoors. (Courtesy of Brian Benson and magnusthetherapydog)

Besides offering the standard “prayers and good wishes,” many offered “solid, real advice,” Benson told the newspaper. Some shared experiences of living through similar diagnoses. Others recommended Benson raise certain, specific questions with his doctor. Some visited their own cardiologists to seek wisdom on Benson’s behalf. “It’s almost like I just stepped into this pool of resources of people really willing to help, which has been just mind-blowing. It’s very humbling, very humbling,” Benson said, adding that Magnus’s love has “crossed all boundaries.”

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