As she stroked Cooper’s fur, the little girl deemed the Labradoodle “beautiful.” “Even with that goofy hair?” asked Barbara Bond. “Yep,” she answered, regarding her own hairless head. “We began discussing what makes someone pretty, how her head was shiny and beautiful. I could see her relaxing,” remembers Bond, director of Charleston’s Ronald McDonald House (RMHC).
The moment affirmed that the nonprofit’s furry recruit, “hired” in January 2011, makes a perfect therapy pet for the shared home, which welcomes out-of-town families with seriously ill children hospitalized at MUSC. Cooper watches over the first-floor offices, wagging his tail at passersby and napping in the doorway. Often, residents drop in to pet him and chat. “People brighten up around Cooper,” says Bond. “He takes their minds off being at the hospital.” Somehow, the happy hound knows when visitors want to play and when they just need to snuggle.
Of course, at 21 months, this hypoallergenic fur ball is still a pup. Mindful that Cooper must respect boundaries, RMHC enrolled him with Bark Busters, who contributed a lifetime of obedience classes. Other local companies have gifted services too, including All Creatures Veterinary Clinic, Susan’s VIP Grooming, Moonshadow Kennel, Fetch Doggy Day Care, Veterinary Specialty Care, Sky Dogs Family Dog Park, and Signature Photography. In fact, Cooper was himself a donation from Texas breeder Lone Star Labradoodles. And when former residents Allan and Becky Rish covered his travel expenses in memory of their son, Jamie, the puppy gained a special moniker. Now, Cooper Jamie McDonald fetches smiles to honor the three-year-old’s precious life.