Read one shelter dogs amazing story of second chances, resilience and hope.

Cooper is a happy black Labrador with bright orange eyes, who found himself in need of our services back in 2019.

Cooper’s happy nature and big bum wags caught the attention of local teacher Samantha, when she visited the Coldstream shelter in search of a companion.

“Cooper was my first dog,” said Samantha, “We had dogs growing up with my family but he was my first living on my own.”

As a primary school teacher, Samantha had always dreamed of training a therapy dog to help in the classroom.

Could it have been fate that Samantha and Cooper found each other that day in the shelter kennels?

“I didn’t have the idea for Cooper to be a therapy dog when I adopted him,” says Samantha, “It wasn’t until we were trapped together in the horrific 2019-20 Mallacoota bushfires”.

The world watched on in horror as the sky turned black and flames engulfed the beachside town of Mallacoota in a hot and dry summer. The community was forced to the water’s edge as authorities began a historic rescue mission.  

 “Cooper was my absolute rock and saving grace throughout this whole experience. He stayed by my side and provided me with so much comfort during the most terrifying experience of my life.”

Cooper had shown his truly courageous nature and was a great candidate for training as a therapy dog.

“I wanted to share the amazing support he gives with others,” says Samantha, “So they could be helped through a difficult time too!”

Cooper started training with Animal Aid Dog Trainer Rhonda before graduating through Lead the Way Institute.

“We still attend Rhonda’s classes once a month for fun!” says Samantha.

Cooper now spends his days in the classroom helping comfort students.

“Cooper is there for emotional support and to make students feel safe in their learning environment,” says Samantha, “He walks around, lies down with kids while they do their work, or is there for support if they are crying or need a walk and some time out.”

There have been many special moments for Cooper and his school community.

“I have one student in particular who suffers from a lot of anxiety,” says Samantha, “She has made such a special bond with Cooper and now she loves coming to school and gets excited about it. She is so happy at school and this is all because of Cooper.”

For some students, Cooper is what gets them through the gate in the mornings.

“We have some school refuses and students who have separation anxiety,” says Samantha, “Cooper has helped to eliminate their anxiety and make them want to come to school!”

“He particularly has helped aid the transition from Kinder to school with students who have separation anxiety.”

Second chances for dogs like Cooper are made possible by your continued support.