Northeastern celebrates community resource dog’s first birthday


Kelly Garrity

Northeastern celebrated its resident community resource dog’s first birthday Oct. 18. The dogs name is Cooper.

Kelly Garrity, news staff

It’s not every day that Northeastern celebrates a first birthday for a staff member, but Cooper is no ordinary husky. Technically, he’s an English Golden Retriever. 

Cooper is Northeastern’s resident community resource dog, named for the school’s co-op program. To celebrate his first birthday, the university organized a party in the Rainbow Room tent outside of West Village F on Oct. 18, complete with treats (for both animals and humans) and a dog-friendly cake for the birthday pup. 

Dozens of students attended the celebration, some of whom had been looking forward to the event for days. 

“I saw the digital flyer and I was so excited for this,” said first-year international affairs major  Daniel Pasciuto.I’ve been looking forward to it for like a week.” 

Pasciuto, who had met Cooper on campus twice before, was facing three midterms and said the event was the perfect study break.

“It’s a really good stress relief and just a happy activity,” Pasciuto said.

Some students, like first-year behavioral neuroscience major Zoe Wernsing, had never met Cooper before, but knew him from his Instagram page, @itsnucooper.  

“We heard about it through Cooper’s Instagram page, so I was like, ‘We have to go wish him a happy birthday,’” Wernsing said.

Cooper “absolutely,” lives up to his Instagram expectations, Wernsing said. “He’s so soft and fluffy and he’s so good, oh my god. Such a good boy.”

Third-year business administration major Akosua Boateng didn’t know about the birthday celebration beforehand but stopped by when she heard a commotion at the tent. 

“I was sitting on the quad, and I heard a really loud noise, and I decided to come look,” she said.

The noise was the crowd singing “Happy Birthday” to the pup as he waited — with understandably increasing impatience — for his secondary handler, Northeastern University Police Department Officer Rachel Joliffe, to set his cake down.  

As with any well-executed first birthday, family was also in attendance. A number of Cooper’s distant siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles came to celebrate with their handlers from Golden Opportunities for Independence, a non-profit that breeds and raises service dogs and community resource dogs like Cooper. 

Cooper’s four-month-old sister, Joy, was there with her trainer Kayla Zuis enjoying plenty of attention and feasting on the treats and cups of whipped cream, also known as “puppuccinos” by Starbucks fanatics. 

However, Cooper’s aunt, seven-year-old Bridget, stole the show by showing off her “driving” skills, which involved sitting in a toy police car as Golden Opportunities for Independence Executive Director Pauline Hoegler drove her around using a remote control. 

Cooper, the community resource dog, is named for Northeastern’s co-op program.

At one year old, Cooper is almost done with his training, and he recently moved in with his handler, NUPD Officer Joe Matthews. So far, he’s been exceeding expectations when it comes to training. 

“Cooper is one of our better dogs in the program,” Hoegler said. “He’s just a year and his search and rescue skills are amazing.” 

NUPD Staff Sergeant John Farrell also talked about Cooper’s progress during a short pre-cake speech. 

“He has gone way above and beyond our expectations,” Farrell said. “He starts conversations with you we normally wouldn’t have, and it’s during those conversations that we find out where you’re from and what you like to study. Many of you are saying that you’re stressed out, you’re anxious, you’re homesick, and that’s what Cooper is there for too.” 

For students like Pasciuto, Cooper does exactly that, allowing him to set the stress of class aside when things start to get overwhelming.

“It feels like school is like a side-hustle to seeing the dogs,” he said.