Robin Cohen, pet encounter manager at Helen Woodward Animal Center, first met Balonee in February of 2016, when he had been found abandoned in a parking lot. The Center provided veterinary care to the 11-year-old Pomeranian, who was under-vaccinated and had severe dental disease and spondylosis. Robin agreed to foster Balonee until his health improved enough to be adopted. But within a few weeks, Robin had fallen in love with the Pomeranian and decided to adopt him herself. Although it usually takes months to train therapy dogs, Balonee’s naturally sweet, gentle demeanor helped him become a fully certified therapy dog within just one month of adoption. Balonee initially visited nursing facilities and memory care units but quickly moved on to assisting people of all ages. He partook in almost 800 Pet Encounter Therapy (PET) visits, meeting clients ranging from youth in foster care, seniors, veterans, hospice patients, those working to overcome addiction, homelessness, and/or chronic unemployment, and others. Balonee’s specialty was showing people unconditional love – something that often meant the world to those he visited. One example of his healing magic was his work at a residential treatment facility for veterans, which the Center would visit twice a month. Some of the more impenetrable veterans would only come down to the visiting room if they knew Balonee was there, finding moments of peace as they held the Pomeranian in their arms and pet his fluffy cloud of fur, before heading back to their rooms. His visits came to mean so much to the residents that they would decorate the white board with welcome messages to “Balonee and his friends” before each visit. Although Balonee has passed away at the end of 2020, the countless hours he spent nurturing thousands of clients encapsulates the healing power and beauty of the human-animal bond.