Cooper, the coal-nosed golden retriever who’ll be doling out doggy kisses and velvet-eared comfort on Northeastern’s Boston campus, is already charming co-workers and students as he romps past major milestones on his path to becoming a certified community resource pup.
The nine-month-old recently moved in with Northeastern University Police Department officer Joe Mathews, a major step towards cementing a lifelong bond between the pooch and his handler.
“He’s been doing well,” says Mathews, who brought Cooper home just days ago. The dog had been living in a foster home until last week. “I just want him to feel comfortable, because I know it’s a new environment for him.”
Mathews already has a Weimaraner and a Boxer mix living at home with his family.
“I think having the other dogs there helped him a lot,” says Mathews. “He’s leaving his surrogate mom, so I feel for him on that.”
Cooper’s surrogate mom is Casey Brown, an administrative specialist at Northeastern who’s also been volunteering at a company called Golden Opportunities for Independence in Walpole, Mass. The company provides service dogs and community resource dogs, and Brown was asked to take Cooper home on weekends in March.
“It’s been weird,” says Brown, who spent nearly every night with Cooper for the past few months. “I heard the transfer was going to be official and I cried about it, not gonna lie.”
Cooper, meanwhile, took the news in stride.
“He was like, ‘Yeah, whatever. It’s fine,’” laughs Brown, who has helped foster other puppies at the non-profit. “That’s why I got into this. I get to share a little piece of their journey.”
Cooper, named after Northeastern’s co-op program following an outpouring of suggestions on social media, will continue his training for another six months to become certified as a community resource dog. He’ll make occasional appearances on the Boston campus with Mathews in the fall.
Meanwhile, Cooper’s foster mom has plenty to share about the gangly juvenile to help the Northeastern community get to know him as well as she does.
“There are a couple of things that are very Cooper. The first thing is that his love language is to present you with a toy,” says Brown, whipping out her phone to display a photo library bursting with proud doggie momma photos.
Cooper’s favorite stuffed toy is a bunny. It is a great honor to be presented with Bunny, says Brown, but she cautions Cooper newbies against making the classic rookie mistake of trying to take the bunny once it’s presented.
“He doesn’t want you to take it,” she warns. “He’ll try to kiss you around the toy while it’s still in his mouth.”
Other Cooper favorites include eating pumpkin, chasing birds, and a trick originally called “middle.”
“So he loves to just walk through the middle of your legs and get scratches, and my dad renamed it car wash. He loves doing car wash,” Brown says. “He’s a very lovable and silly dog.”
Cooper’s endearing doggy quirks have made it hard to part with him, says Brown, but she takes comfort in the fact that they’ll be reunited when the pooch starts work as a full-time community resource dog.
“It’s just lovely that we’ll work together again and I can see him around on campus,” says Brown.
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