Buddy’s name is apropos. The seven-year-old golden retriever–Lab mix is just that—a friend not only to his owner, retired middle school teacher Shelly Weininger, but to anyone he meets as a Happy Tails pup. Through Happy Tails, a local pet therapy group, Buddy regularly spreads his tail-wagging cheer at places such as Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite and Ronald McDonald House. After all, he knows what they’ve been through; he had two leg surgeries before he was one and a half. Buddy gets even busier when HOPE Animal-Assisted Crisis Response calls. Through the national organization, he’s given comfort to those affected by disasters—including families staying at a Cobb County shelter after the 2009 flooding. This “angel in dog fur,” says Weininger, has even taken his good tidings to Savannah to spend Christmas Day with soldiers who had just returned from Iraq.
This article originally appeared in our November 2010 issue.