Dogs on Duty: ‘First Dog’ Guinness makes the governor’s mansion a destination for animal lovers

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Guinness stands at the gate with a ball in his mouth, his tail wagging and a playful expression on his face.

It is a usual day at the Executive Mansion, and the First Dog is greeting visitors in the way he best knows how.

“Really, he is a great ambassador,” says First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe. “He just makes visiting Capitol Square a little more fun.”

The Yellow Labrador Retriever moved into the Executive Mansion last year after the passing of Finnegan, the Governor’s dog for 13 years.

The First Lady says Guinness is more than a family dog; he is a dog for the people of the Commonwealth and, of course, anyone else willing to play with him.

The Yellow Lab turned one on April 1, and his day-long games of fetch have become a staple at the gate, while Governor Terry McAuliffe and his staff handle official Virginia business inside the mansion.

“It’s not like every day you get to see the Governor’s dog out on the lawn,” says Hira Ahmed, a fourth grade student at Rivers Edge Elementary in Glen Allen.

Rivers Edge Elementary students enjoy taking a break from their field trip to play fetch with Guinness.

Ahmed was on a field trip at Capitol Square when Guinness became a welcome distraction from her civics lesson.

“Throw the ball, pet him, call his name,” Madison Baham, a Rivers Edge fourth grader, lists what she enjoyed about meeting the First Dog,

Adds Rivers Edge fourth grader Kaitlyn Holmes, “He would always come back when we told him to. He was a good listener.”

The gate at the Executive Mansion has also become a destination for some state employees who stop by as often as they can.

“It’s become kind of a fun thing for us to do,” explains Dawn Eischen, who works with the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS).

Eischen says the therapy Guinness offers to passers-by is priceless.

Guinness plays fetch for hours each day with people of all ages. (Photo: Jessica Stern)

“If you just look at Guinness and the smiles that he brings and just how much joy people have when they play with him, he’s really doing a job,” Eischen says.

He has helped to make the Executive Mansion gate a must-stop spot for tourists and locals alike.

“I think he knows it’s his job now,” says the First Lady with a smile. “He gets it and, of course, now he’s been interviewed by the press so it’s official.”

Guinness often mingles with visitors inside the mansion too, and the Governor’s social media accounts have the pictures to prove it.  Follow this link to check in on Guinness from time to time on the Governor’s facebook page.

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