FRANKLIN, Tenn. (WKRN) — Every dog has its purpose, and from the moment Cooper was born, Andy Garmezy knew his.
“As a pup, I said I’m going to do what it takes to get into therapy work and make Cooper a therapy animal,” he said.
After becoming certified, Garmezy decided to get Cooper certified as a national response canine, too.
“The condo collapse right outside Miami Beach,” he said.
That event became the first of many Garmezy and Cooper worked as volunteers with NATIONAL Crisis Response Canines.
“The first responders as well as the families have seen some horrific stuff, so we do a great deal with the firefighters and the police,” he said.
When a tragedy struck the community of Lewiston, Maine, Garmezy and Cooper got a call from the company L.L. Bean to come up and help.
“They could just see the anxiety and the stress just kind of melt away while we were there and we see that, too,” he said. “That’s why we do it. We know that we’re part of the recovery process.”
On their plane ride up, Garmezy asked the flight attendant if passengers could write messages for those hurting. It’s an idea he came up with when he flew to help victims in Ulvade, Texas.
On his flight up to Maine, Garmezy was asked to read the messages when one woman decided to start recording.
“I was like, this is a moment that needs to be captured,” said Felisha Lees.
Lees posted the video on TikTok which ended up going viral.
“The overall message has just been love, and you know we all need that,” he said.
After days of texting and chatting online, Garmezy and Lees finally got a chance to meet via zoom for the very first time Friday.
“To be able to actually have a conversation was really amazing,” said Lees.
Garmezy knows he and Cooper’s work is far from done, but if they can help spread joy through one person, then they know it’s all worth it.
“Cooper loves doing it, and we’re going to do it as long as he’s healthy which I hope is a long time coming,” he said.
Garmezy and other volunteers with the organization pay their own money to fly up when called.
Lees said she’s working with Southwest Airlines to see if they can partner with the organization to help cover or heavily discount their flights in the future.