KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Guinness the Golden Retriever is a regular visitor to the healthcare facilities across the Knoxville area. He's a celebrity among doctors, nurses, and reception staff. But, most importantly, he's valued by the patients he visits.
The person that helped Guinness' fame reach a pinnacle is his owner, Foster Arnett.
"He's very calm. he's very sedate and sweet," Foster said, "He's an exceptional dog."
Exceptional is an understatement. This good boy has done quite the service for the community.
"It's all Guinness, he's the one that does it. I just tease and just say I'm his Uber driver," Foster said.
Foster said the pair has completed more than 800 visits in the last four years. Guinness has logged more than 1,200 hours. They average eight facility visits a week.
"He makes so many people happy on so many different levels every single day," Foster said.
Guinness makes people happy, and people make Guinness happy. But, this dog's life wasn't always smooth sailing.
"Guinness is from Istanbul, Turkey. He was born over there and was homeless for about two years, living on the streets," Foster said.
Adopt a Golden Knoxville said Golden Retriever puppies are a status symbol for some social groups in Turkey. They are often gifted as presents. However, the dogs are not considered trendy once they mature past a year old.
"These dogs were left homeless, and they were simply just released into the forest," said Sommerville Harris, with Adopt a Golden Knoxville (AGK).
She said there are thousands of stray Goldens in the country. She also said pet adoption is not a common practice in Turkey like it is in the United States.
Guinness was one of a group of Goldens that AGK rescued from Turkey. He flew to the U.S. with a puppy passport in his paw. From there, he just needed a home.
Sommerville said AGK asked Foster, and the rest of the Arnett family, if they would be willing to foster a dog. After meeting Guinness, they decided to adopt him instead.
"Quickly, he was adopted by the Arnett family, and they began working with him," Sommerville said. "It became really clear that Guinness was special."
"He was a little standoffish for about a week. But after that, the golden came out in him and he became so sweet and friendly," Foster said.
Now, Guinness spreads joy anywhere he goes.
"All you see is happiness and smiles. It's only something a dog can do or a cat or an animal can do. It's just it's a blessing. It's a total blessing," Foster said.