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Angel: A Therapy Dog Remembered

A photo of Angel, a therapy dog.

The volunteer therapy dog who passed away in September had no idea how many people she would bring joy to when she was adopted when she was 4 years old. (Courtesy of Karin Coopersmith)

Angel the Bernese Mountain Dog touched thousands of lives in Monroe County. The volunteer therapy dog who passed away in September had no idea how many people she would bring joy to when she was adopted when she was 4 years old.

In 2015, Angel was at the Bloomington Farmers Market with her dad, Steven Coopersmith, when they met Rebecca Warren, executive director of the Monroe County Humane Association. Karin Coopersmith, Angel’s mom, remembers hearing all about it. 

“Rebecca thought Angel was just adorable and Angel was just cozying up to her and she said, ‘Do you know anything about the therapy program?’” Karin said.

The MCHA therapy animal program aims to improve mental, physical, emotional and cognitive health throughout the community through interaction with animals. By February 2016, Angel and Karin Coopersmith had gone through training to be a therapy team for the program. Angel was already a pretty obedient dog, but she learned some new skills for all the new environments she would be in.

“If we were going into, say, a nursing home, and a pill were dropped on the floor, you don’t want the dog to pick up the pill," Karin said. "So they have to learn, ‘leave it.'"

During her four years in the program, Angel visited kids at public schools, IU students at Wells Library during finals week, residents in nursing homes and struggling readers at the public library. But Angel also worked in more serious settings. She spent time with dementia patients and visited Susie’s Place, a child advocacy center, where she would sit and play with children before they went into forensic interviews.

“She had an innate feeling for going to the people who needed her and that was very, very special," Karin said. "I also had some therapists say that she would look into your soul.”

Once, when Angel was visiting College Mall to cheer up shoppers, a security guard ushered Angel and Karin over to a woman who had gone into shock. Angel was able to help bring the woman out of shock before anyone called an ambulance.

Karin says she became Angel’s Mom, instead of just Karin, and when Angel died from bacterial pneumonia in September, she received emails, texts, cards and flowers from countless people who adored Angel. One woman who had only met Angel a couple of times with her children wrote Karin this note:

"We loved Angel. We’d seen her in the mall a couple of times, anyone who had ever met Angel would remember her. She was such a calm and sweet dog. She loved being pet and loved her treats. I can say without a doubt in my mind she was truly an angel."

The Coopersmiths recently adopted Barley, a 15-month-old Bernese mountain dog who needed to be re-homed. Karin says he is too young and rambunctious to be a therapy dog yet, but it might be in his future. He loves people, after all, just like Angel.

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