Beacon, the golden retriever, works part-time for the USAG Image Credit: goldendogbeacon/Instagram

The pressure to qualify for the national team to compete at the Olympics can be too much for participants. However, the USA Gymnastics (USAG) found the “goodest boy” to help calm the participants – Beacon, a four-year-old golden retriever.

Beacon was hired part-time to comfort gymnasts and staff.

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The recent US Gymnastics Olympics trials were held from June 27 to 30 in Minneapolis, where Beacon along with his handler Tracey Callahan Molnar were present, to support gymnasts and other members of the US gymnastics team. Photos and videos of Beacon went viral on social media this week.

Beacon and Molnar
Beacon with his handler, Tracey Callahan Molnar Image Credit: weratedogs/Instagram

According to the American sports channel, ESPN, Beacon is USAG’s first ever therapy dog and earned the title of “Goodest Boy” during the trials. Beacon was first Molnar’s service animal before she had him certified as a therapy dog.

“I think we did important work. It was a rough night for some of the gymnasts, and I think Beacon helped celebrate the good stuff and be there and give support for the challenges,” Molnar told ESPN.

Gymnasts who were competing for a spot on Team USA for the Paris Olympics, were overjoyed to see the four-legged staffer. Suni Lee, a gymnast who was selected for Team USA even shared pictures with him on her Instagram.

Molnar said Beacon is drawn to two things: Hearing his name and an innate sense of when someone needs him, according to ESPN. “He will turn on a dime without seeing who it is. He picks up on stress and will pull to that person immediately. They absorb the stress of the people they’re relieving the stress off of. So even though he might be lying still for two hours, he’s wiped out afterwards,” she said.

At the end of the trials, Molnar posted a montage of pictures and videos saying “it is a great privilege for Beacon and me…”. She even went on to praise Beacon saying, “Proud doesn’t even scratch the surface of how I feel.”

Back home in Pasadena, California, Beacon volunteers at local hospitals as well. Molnar, a former gymnast and coach told ESPN, “Science shows petting a dog or even watching someone pet a dog, can lower blood pressure and anxiety, help increase the feel-good hormones serotonin and dopamine, and lower cortisol levels.”

In an interview with American weekly magazine PEOPLE, a USAG staff said they are working to get Beacon to the 2024 Olympics. “We are looking into if he can go to Paris. As you can imagine, it’s a bit complicated.”