That, and being able to bring Cooper to UVA to engage with the University community, made it a “no-brainer,” said Rexrode, who purchased the dog and paid for its training.
“What a wonderful addition Cooper is to the University of Virginia Police Department family,” interim UVA Police Chief Tim Longo said. “It is especially important to recognize Sgt. Rexrode for the creative approach that he has chosen in an effort to meet the needs of our University community by incorporating Cooper’s talents into our work.
“I also believe that it is important to note that Ben has made a personal contribution of his time, energy and financial resources in acquiring Cooper and ensuring the proper training and subsequent certification required of service animals. I deeply appreciate his generosity and look forward to working with him and Cooper as they go about their good work.”
The adventure began last January, after a friend-of-a-friend told Rexrode a breeder in Michigan had a dog she wanted to rehome. Said to be friendly and sweet, the miniature American shepherd seemed the perfect fit, so the police officer hit the road on a winter Friday, driving 12 hours and heading into a snowstorm to retrieve Cooper.
“It was during the polar vortex and it was like negative-11 degrees when I got up there to get him,” Rexrode said.
A few months after getting him home, Cooper began training at a place in Stuart’s Draft called Positive Paws.