Through fostering dogs in need, one Minnesota Wild player and his wife, found a true companion
By Kelsey Duckett
Let’s face it, whether you are coming home from a long day at the office, classroom, or in the case of one Minnesota Wild player, the rink—there is no better feeling than opening the door to your favorite four-legged friend wiggling and waggling around to greet you.
Andrew Brunette, a left wing for the Minnesota Wild, and his wife Lorie, are crazy about dogs. During Andrew’s previous playing days in Denver, for the Colorado Avalanche, both were active with various shelters and rescue groups.
The couple’s first dog, Ginger, had a heart problem and did not survive during surgery. Since Lorie spent a ton of time with her, she took it very hard. It was one of many reasons she got into Golden Retriever rescue.
“I wanted to help, and it was a good way to meet some amazing people and get involved in the community,” Lorie recalls.
The Brunettes began fostering dogs who were sick and needed some extra attention while waiting for new forever-homes.
“After Lorie started volunteering, we sort of became a kennel,” Andrew says with a chuckle. “Every time I went on the road, I’d come back and there would be a new dog there.”
Through their volunteer work, the Brunettes first met Simon, who was brought to the shelter after being hit by a car. After Simon’s surgery, Andrew and Lorie were asked to foster him while he recovered.
“He couldn’t move,” Lorie explains. “He had a titanium rod in his leg. He was hurting pretty good, and the plan was for him to stay for a couple months until he was back up on his feet.”
But he never left.
“I guess he just kind of grew into our family,” Andrew says. “Lorie really had a hard time saying goodbye to the dog that [we fostered] before Simon, so I kind of figured that Simon was here to stay.”
Simon eventually made a full recovery. Today he is just as active as any other dog, and swimming is his favorite activity at the couple’s cabin in Canada.
In addition to getting healthy, Simon also needed some help in the manners department. Lorie says it was obvious that he had never been walked on a leash, and commands like “sit” or “come” were out of the question.
“We took him to a bunch of obedience classes and he did great,” Andrew says proudly. “Lorie trained him to be a therapy dog, so he visits hospitals, which is awesome. Simon is recognized everywhere in Minnesota—he is even more popular than me.”
Simon is no stranger to the Xcel Energy Center, either. “He knows all the cast and characters down there, he is pretty popular amongst the guys,” Andrew says.
The Minnesota Wild organization even invited Simon to participate in the “Let’s Play Hockey” portion of their home games, when a special person (or dog!) is invited to the podium high above the crowd to yell (or bark) three famous words, “Let’s Play Hockey!”
“It was my 1,000th NHL game,” Andrew recalls. “So it was an emotional day for me and my family. To have Simon there and be part of our special day was awesome.”
Both Andrew and Lorie grew up with dogs throughout their childhood, and can’t imagine living without them. They refer to their pets as their kids.
The Brunettes encourage everyone to consider rescuing a dog, as they said there is no better feeling.
“Simon would not have had a chance unless he was rescued,” Andrew points out. “He is a part of our family, and to have that companionship and friendship is really special. He is our best friend.”