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We are excited to announce the official mascot of Green Mountain Adaptive Sports, SSD Cooper.

Cooper is a beautiful yellow lab and is a Susquehanna Service Dog who lives with his partner in Vermont. He was raised through the Roar for More Puppy Club at Penn State University. 

This amazing K9 has been working as a service dog for Jennifer Jones, a GMAS athlete for 4 years. Cooper is a balance/mobility service dog so he assists her with walking and keeps her from falling. He picks up things for her and helps her do chores around their home. 

Cooper and Jennifer enjoy a hike in Stowe togetherCooper is always eager to work hard, he is easy going yet energetic, and has a calm temperament which makes him the perfect companion. 

Recently, Cooper won the Readers Choice Award for Best Face in the 2021 Vermont Sports Magazine Adventure Dog Contest.

Cooper will be present to offer kisses (while not working) at GMAS events, provide us with useful tips to educate people with service dogs, accompany Jennifer on her adaptive adventures, and of course provide us with lots of cute doggy stories and photos to share.

Give Cooper’s Instagram page a follow, and read more about him in our blog post. 

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Here is the full story of how Cooper became part of Jennifer’s life, written by Jennifer.

Cooper and Jennifer taking in the view at the top of a mountainBefore I was matched with Cooper and before I met my husband, my life was pretty lonely and dark. I never went out anywhere to do anything. I was in tremendous pain and didn’t see much hope for my future.

At the time I had a golden retriever who was always there for me through all my surgeries and when I had to walk away from a career that I loved after 20+ years. When my golden died at the age of 12 1/2 unexpectedly from hemangiosarcoma, my world stopped. I felt like I lost half my soul. I went into a deep depression and was stuck in this dark hole for a long time.

I applied for a service dog shortly after my golden retriever died and that was the hope I held onto every day. But, it wasn’t enough, I was still depressed and couldn’t get out of the depressed state I was in. Then I decided to foster a golden retriever until my service dog was ready for me. Her name was Humble and she brought me out of the dark hole I was in as I helped her navigate around her dark world. I rescued her at the age of 14 years old. When I first got her, she was scared, very underweight and was a little aggressive towards me. Then she developed glaucoma and pigmentary uveitis and lost both her eyes. How in the world was I going to take care of this broken dog that was as broken as I was?

Then everything changed. After Humble lost her eyes, it was like a light went off in her. She became such a happy golden who embraced life with her newfound disability. Humble helped transform me as much I helped her, our relationship was extraordinary. I ended up having her in my life for 4 years. She died at the age of 17 years and 8 months, which is unheard of for a golden retriever.

SSD Cooper on the Stowe GondolaFive days after Humble died I met Cooper at “Meet the Dogs” with Susquehanna Service Dogs. It was on March 17th (St. Patrick’s Day) I called him my lucky charm 🍀  as I knew the moment I met him, he was going to be my service dog. I’ve heard people say, “you’ll know when you meet your service dog.” I didn’t quite understand what that meant until I met Cooper. He is part of the Cheese Litter at Susquehanna Service Dogs. He has 7 sisters that all became service dogs (Parm, Zola, Queso, Motzi, Feta, Ricotta and Asiago).

His puppy raiser was a student at Penn State and was part of SSD puppy raising program called “Roar for More.” I found it quite ironic that I ended up with a service dog that was raised at Penn State. I’ve been a huge Penn State football since I was 12 years old and both my parents retired from Penn State, funny how life is. 

Cooper and I have been together for four years now. He’s a balance/mobility service dog so he assist me with walking and keeping me from falling, which I had done A LOT before I got Cooper. He also picks up things for me and helps me do chores around our home.

Cooper holds a DONATE to GMAS signCooper has helped me do things I never thought possible before he was matched with me. Our bond is so strong, after being with me for only a year, Cooper learned how to detect my pain before I have flare up. He will do things to get me to stop what I’m doing so I can go sit or lay down to rest.

Every dog I’ve had in my life, I changed my life for them, they’ve made me a better person. They helped me realize to live my life each day as it comes and to be grateful for every moment of every day. Now I have a dog that will help me change my life.