Zack the ‘Welcome Wagger' Raises Spirits at Hartford Hospital

Zack is a 205-pound therapy dog that visits Hartford Hospital on Thursdays.

Of all the hundreds who come and go through Hartford Hospital’s front lobby, there’s a certain celebrity of sorts that makes just about everyone stop in their tracks.

Maybe it’s in his eyes or the endless ear rubs, but Zack the therapy dog has a way with humans.

Zack is a “Welcome Wagger” and every Thursday morning he and his handler make a big entrance and impression.

“People just tend to love him and he’s very calming, just his size people being able to feel and touch him,” Dave Patenaude said.

Zack weighs a whopping 205 pounds.

The gig comes with some perks. Zack has his own volunteer badge and gets to take water breaks after all that greeting.

And perhaps the biggest sign of his celebrity status, a photoshoot for Hartford Hospital Nursing Magazine. The publication set to detail the benefits of hospital therapy dogs like Zack for staff members.

“He takes the stress away, takes the load off and kind of gets my mind off all the craziness,” nurse Ben Morrison said.

Director of Volunteer Services Eileen Pelletier admits Zack isn’t quite cut out for hospital room visits.

“Because of all of the equipment and chairs in the beds being in the room it’s a little bit harder for him to maneuver,” Pelletier said.

But it’s in the lobby where his love can greet people first.

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