National Crisis Response pup gets inducted into Tennessee Animal Hall of Fame

Posted at 8:04 PM, Feb 13, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-13 21:25:58-05

FRANKLIN, Tenn. (WTVF) — If you love dogs, you know all about their ability to brighten our day. One man and his pup have taken that fact and turned into one powerful duo. Their work's just gotten an important honor.

"C'mon. Sit down. You know the drill," said Andy Garmezy, as his golden retriever Cooper climbed into his vehicle.

He's always been a dog person, but Andy knew there was something different about his eighth golden retriever, Cooper. He and wife Pat both felt it.

"I believed he was special from the very beginning," Pat said.

"People relate to him, and Cooper has never met a person he doesn't like," Andy added. "He's intuitive. You just sense that with him. We've never had a dog like that."

Living a good life on this Franklin farm with such a great companion, Andy had a thought.

"I'm not a spring chicken anymore," Andy laughed. "I'm at the point in my life, it's time to give back."

He began taking Cooper to Vanderbilt to visit people going through treatments. Then, Cooper became part of the National Crisis Response Canines. Just over a year ago, they were requested to go areas of Kentucky after a devastating tornado.

"We went into neighborhoods that were destroyed. We asked the mental health personnel where they needed us," said Andy. "When we go out to the car and he gets his vest on, he's not just a pet. He's a working canine."

Then came the school shooting in Texas.

"Uvalde was really tough," Andy said. "It was the toughest deployment Cooper and I have been on."

There, Cooper and Andy brought notes to the children written by the people on their flight there.

"That's why you do it," he continued. "It's the moments like it that touch the heart, and you know you're helping people."

For all this work over the last few years, the Tennessee Veterinary Medical Foundation has just inducted Cooper into their Tennessee Animal Hall of Fame.

"Pat insisted Cooper go to a dog beauty salon to get ready for the banquet," Andy smiled. "I'm not going to let him become a diva!"

A dog's good work could continue. Cooper's got a whole family including sons Huck and Elvis.

"Huck is already a certified pet canine, and he is going into pet crisis work," Andy said. "He's a mini-Cooper."

"He's learned from his daddy," Pat said of Huck. "His time's going to come down the road, I think."

"The human-canine bond is so special," Andy continued. "Cooper has taken that to the next level with what he does. This is a great way to give back. I have a partner that's exceptional at helping me give back. Not everybody can do this and not every dog can do this. Cooper can, and it's rewarding."

Get NewsChannel 5 Now, wherever, whenever, always free.

Watch the live stream below, and download our apps on Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and more. Click here to learn more.