BSW Stories - Page 24

Making Good Dogs Great Cooper is quite a catch – he’s smart, cute, funny and polite. Even better, he’s trained to potty on command. For now, though, he’s taken. A 70-pound Labrador-Golden Retriever mix, this pup has captured the hearts of Baylor Scott & White Medical Center – Carrollton clinical pharmacist Stacy Romero, her husband and three children. Since August 2015, Cooper has been raised by the Romero family, who are preparing him to be an assistance dog for someone in need. “I think it was divine intervention that brought him to us,” Stacy says. “Our dog was getting old when I found out about the Baylor Scott & White and Canine Companions for Independence® collaboration. The more I read, the more I wanted to open our home to a puppy.” 22 At the time, the unique collaboration was working toward building the first service dog training center in the nation to be connected to a health care system. Now open, the Kinkeade campus in Irving trains and places highly skilled assistance dogs with people with disabilities free of charge. Volunteers are needed to help raise, train and socialize puppies like Cooper, who has already been in hotels, and at restaurants, ball games and more. Stacy takes him to classes at the training center twice a month. In between, she works with him daily, laying the foundation for professional training that will teach him to help someone with a disability turn on lights, open a refrigerator and much more. The fostering isn’t one-sided, though.