Rescue Dog becomes Therapy Dog, visits The Waters of Pewaukee

June 4, 2024 | Spectrum News 1

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Petunia, a pit bull mix, went from stray to beloved support animal.

Petunia’s life started in Texas. She was found malnourished and mistreated. In March 2023, she was rescued and brought to Wisconsin with a group of other shelter dogs in poor condition. That’s where Lisa Finke found her and took her in.

“The minute she got off the bus she melted into me, and I knew she was going to be the perfect therapy dog,” Finke said.

Finke is the administration manager at Central Bark and has worked with dogs for close to two decades.

Finke helped Petunia gain her strength back and then went through the work to get her certified as a therapy dog. Together, they now visit senior care centers, hospitals and behavioral health centers in Wisconsin.

Typically, about once a week, Petunia and Finke visit the Waters of Pewaukee Senior Living Facility. There she visits residents in memory care who have dementia and Alzheimers. 

Finke said she knew Petunia would thrive as a therapy dog, but she said seeing the pup in action has exceeded her expectations.

“She is the most cool, kind dog I have ever met,” said Finke. “She melts into people for love. She loves pets. She just loves spreading her joy.”

Throughout this whole journey, Petunia has been able to overcome a bad situation and transform herself into being the best part of many people’s day.

Michelle Roth is the active life manager at the Waters of Pewaukee, and said it’s been incredible to witness Petunia in action.

“Honestly, meeting Petunia, watching her, you would never know her background unless it was shared,” Roth said. “Seeing the impact and just how far she has come is a beautiful story.”

Finke said she’s hoping to expand their reach to include more places. Petunia is also certified to be a first responder therapy dog.

“Being able to share her with other people is just so special,” Finke said.

This story originally appeared on Spectrum 1 News.