Cooper – the Emotional Support Dog of Fire Station 21

Cooper shakes Firefighter Peltier’s hand.
Photos by Mikaela STONE

By Mikaela STONE


The first responders of Verdugo Communications and the Glendale Fire Dept. are not only fighting for safety but for mental health through Cooper, the emotional support dog. The 80-pound Goldendoodle is a heavyweight champion against stress, helping to lift the spirits of first responders.

Dogs are scientifically proven to be excellent at helping humans manage difficult feelings by lowering heart rates and blood pressure and reducing symptoms of anxiety.

Korin Peltier, Cooper’s handler and a dispatcher with Verdugo Fire Communications and the Glendale Fire Dept., wanted to show her fellow first responders “that it’s okay to not be okay.”

“In the past [the mentality] was, ‘We’re tough, we’re first responders,” Peltier said.

Firefighter Ludwig and Cooper

She acknowledged that while there is a push for bolstering mental health there is still much work to be done; whether one is struggling or not is typically not discussed within the fire station. Peltier asserts that taking care of one’s own mental health is what ultimately will allow her peers to “be better first responders for [local] citizens as well as at home.”

Peltier is trained to debrief her colleagues after a difficult incident but offering her peers comfort and referrals to therapy and other services is not encouraged. Cooper allows her to offer more aid and she reports seeing “smiles everywhere.”

Even Peltier has seen the positive effects of a wellness dog.

Firefighters Ludwig, Lorincz, and Cate pet Cooper.

Prior to Cooper, she responded to a call of a baby not breathing. Peltier had to walk the panicked parent through CPR on the child while Peltier’s stress levels spiked due to the high stakes. When a similar call came in, and with Cooper at her side, Peltier noted a difference in how clearly she could think and issue instructions, allowing her to be the best possible first responder.

Cooper is trained to perform service dog etiquette in both public and private settings – and serves in another unexpected way: he finds lost items! Cooper has returned to his handler a set of missing keys and a pair of soft cups for a headset. During his interview with the Crescenta Valley Weekly, Cooper fetched a wrist guard that no one had realized had dropped onto the floor. Peltier hoped that Cooper will set a precedent for other fire stations, many of which request Cooper’s presence.

Firefighter Hammond, who transferred from a station without a dog, had looked forward to visits from Cooper before joining Fire Station 21.

“You can’t pet a dog and feel stressed,” he said.

Firefighters Hammond, Lorincz, Ludwig, and Cate pet Cooper while Pickard looks on.

The firefighters of Station 21 have appointed Cooper as an honorary member of their pickleball team as the dog keeps stealing the ball from the court. The firefighters do not mind donating a few balls to Cooper in return for how much joy he has brought to them.


Peltier said she believes that everyone can learn a lesson from dogs; dogs offer unconditional love, do not judge others, are happy to see everyone, and live each day to the fullest.

More Cooper pictures can be found at his instagram @cooper_thedispatchdog and online at