COGI’s K-9 Crew
Executive Director, Alicia Fleischut, established COGI’s K-9 Crew when she and her husband, Kevin, became the proud parents of Boo Boo Bear (aka Boo Boo). Boo Boo, a Dogue de Bordeaux, otherwise known as a French Mastiff. Most of us may have first encountered the Dogue de Bordeaux at the movie theater in 1989 when the breed stole the movie “Turner and Hooch.” Since then, the imposing dog has made headway into people’s hearts and homes. His personality ranges from aloof to outgoing and at times comical. The Dogue de Bordeaux is vigilant and courageous, loving and devoted and also enjoys people. He was just the kind of dog that would fit nicely with the work that COGI was doing with those struggling with addiction.
Therapy Dog Certification
Boo Boo received his first level of certification through Love on a Leash. The primary function of Love on the Leash and a therapy pet is to brighten someone’s day. The membership/certification with Love on the Leash focuses on the social side of therapy work. Boo Boo visits nursing homes, and any other service oriented agency where he may be invited.
The K-9 Crew Gains a New Member
In 2018, Theodore Bear (aka Teddy or Teddy Bear), an American Bulldog joined the Fleischut Family and became the second member of COGI’s K-9 Crew. The original intention was for Teddy to be a family pet, however after a few visits to the office with his big brother, Boo Boo, it was quickly seen that Teddy would fit right in. Different from Boo Boo, Teddy has a much more outgoing personality and insists on being the center of attention at all times. He has a way of making you forget your troubles because he insists that you focus on him and his needs for scratches, rubs, and sometimes just holding his paw.
In Loving Memory of Boo Boo Bear 2012 – 2020
A gentle giant, Boo Boo roamed the halls of COGI greeting clients and staff with his slobbery face. He always seemed to sense when someone was having a bad day and would be drawn to that person. He was known to lean into that person’s legs and make sure his presence was known. He was happy just to be present but surely didn’t mind getting a few scratches and gladly accepted a snack. His quiet, laid back personality, made him sometimes unnoticeable, yet to someone new, he could be seen as intimidating. In July of 2020, at the age of 7, Boo Boo Bear crossed the Rainbow Bridge. He is very sadly missed by his family, Alicia Fleischut, COGI’s Executive Director, her husband Kevin, as well as his little brother and fellow COGI K-9 Crew buddy, Theodore “Teddy” Bear. The COGI Family misses him dearly and he has surely left a paw print on all of our hearts!
The Benefits of a Dog in Therapy
Cynthia Chandler, author of Animal Assisted Therapy in Counseling, points out that the positive benefits to be gained from therapy can be more immediate when a therapy pet is involved, especially when working with a resistant client. The desire to be with the therapy pet can sometimes override the client’s initial defenses (Chandler, 2005). She further points to the natural relationship that occurs between dogs and humans which can result in quick bonding and trust between the client and dog in a therapeutic setting. According to Chandler, this bond between the pet and the client also helps to facilitate a bond with the therapist, as the feelings of affection and trust for the pet are eventually transferred to the pet’s therapist.
Animal-assisting therapy can help even the most broken and jaded person rediscover his or her deepest inner sources of compassion, which is an essential step for any addict who hopes to finally ascend from the pit of despair and shame that dominated his or her existence for so long. Before those with a history of substance abuse can hope to find lasting sobriety, they must first rebuild their self-esteem to the point where they actually feel strong enough to accomplish difficult things and worthy enough to deserve the happiness and peace that was denied them during their years of battling against alcoholism or drug addiction.