Magnus the Therapy Dog Is a Viral Sensation in Pound Ridge

Photos courtesy of Brain Benson.

Pound Ridge’s Magnus the Therapy Dog has become an unlikely internet sensation, all while helping his grateful human companions.

It is said that a dog is a man’s best friend, but for social media sensations Brian Benson and Magnus the Therapy Dog, the relationship is even more significant. In 2017, Benson wanted to adopt a pup to make his Pound Ridge-based family feel more complete, so he adopted Magnus, a yellow Labrador retriever with the gift of healing. Even as a puppy, Magnus was always there and ready to help. When Benson’s daughter was diagnosed with arthritis, Benson noticed how nurturing Magnus was toward her, comforting her through her pain.

Brian Benson and dog

“He wasn’t trained then, but he had this empathy that is just hardwired into him,” recalls Benson, who decided he’d train Magnus as a service/therapy dog. Benson, who suffers from a sleep condition that causes severe seizures, trained Magnus to help minimize these incidents by providing deep-pressure therapy. When Benson senses a seizure coming on, Magnus lies down on him, and the pressure of his body helps to resolve the seizure. “He really is a lifesaver,” says Benson.

When Benson senses a seizure coming on, Magnus lies down on him, and the pressure of his body helps to resolve the seizure.

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Benson began sharing Magnus’ nurturing soul with the world in 2020. They started locally, visiting hospitals and schools to provide support to terminally and critically ill children and adults, until the COVID-19 outbreak. During lockdown, Benson, a professional visual effects artist for TV and film, took to social media to remain tapped in while highlighting the incredible support of Magnus and service animals in general. But what began as a humble endeavour to connect with others, uploading comedy and family videos, has since evolved into a social media juggernaut. At press time, his Instagram account was up to more than 770,000 followers, while his YouTube page boasted an unfathomable 967 million (not a typo) views. On TikTok, Benson and Magnus were up to roughly 2.7 million followers, with 55 million likes.

Recently, Benson went to Northern Westchester Hospital (NWH) after experiencing chest pains and swollen legs. He spent three days at NWH, where he was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy. Since NWH allows patients with service dogs to join them throughout their stays, Magnus was by Benson’s side the entire time (“I couldn’t have done it without him!”). Benson posted videos on his TikTok, documenting his and Magnus’ time at the hospital, stealing many hearts while spreading the word.

Magnus the Therapy Dog gives his best friend and owner, Brian Benson, a kiss.
Magnus the Therapy Dog gives his best friend and owner, Brian Benson, a kiss.

Benson sees his and Magnus’ internet fame as an opportunity to spread positivity during dark times. He plans to continue creating social media content and spreading the word of his service dog, companion, and best friend, Magnus.

Related: 10 Great Westchester Dog Parks Your Pets Will Love

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