Minneapolis therapy dog a rising star on TikTok

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A therapy dog from Minneapolis is a rising star on TikTok, with feel-good videos that are getting millions of views.

Ellie the golden retriever is lifting the spirits of people around the world who are stuck at home during this pandemic.

“Total views, it’s probably somewhere over 20 million,” said Kevin Bubolz, Ellie’s owner. “It’s been pretty wild and pretty amazing.”

Bubolz said he was inspired to train a therapy dog after serving as an Army pilot in Afghanistan. His unit had a service dog named Zac that would fly in the helicopters with them.

"When we returned home from deployment, I decided I wanted to spread that same kind of happiness in my local community,” Bubolz explained.

So, he bought a golden retriever puppy named Ellie. The pair have spent the last three years volunteering in schools, nursing homes and hospitals.

"Unfortunately, due to public health concerns with the COVID pandemic, we’re now unable to volunteer in person," Bubolz said, "so I created a TikTok with the mission of trying to spread as many smiles as I possibly could, virtually."

Ellie’s TikTok feed, under the handle @goldenretrieverlife, is full of songs and silliness, trends and tricks.

“She is an incredibly intelligent dog so you can teach her something one time and she can pick it up really quickly,” Bubolz said.

Bubolz said he looks forward to the day they can once again volunteer in-person but, for now, this platform allows them to continue reaching people in quarantine.

“Seeing the comments of people saying things like, ‘You made my day,’ and, ‘This is the happiest moment of my week,’ and, ‘I haven’t smiled this much all day,’ that’s just really important to me,” Bubolz said. “Those little moments in life that can make you smile can make all the difference.”

To see Ellie's TikTok page, click here.