Six-year-old Cooper, a Great Pyrenees-Labrador mix, was swept away in the floodwater in Waverly, Tennessee.
As unprecedented rain hit Tennessee with up to 15 inches of rain fell over a six-hour period, it led to flash floods of devastating proportions. More than 270 homes were destroyed in the flooding and killed 18 people. Amidst all this grief, there was a ray of hope in the form of a heroic dog who saved a young boy's life.
Cooper, the Great Pyrenees-Labrador mix, was swept away in the floodwater in Waverly on August 21. The dog was separated from his family. But even as the dog was in a precarious situation, he went to the rescue of an autistic boy clinging onto a wall after also being swept by floodwaters and stayed with him until rescuers arrived.
📷Damage after heavy rain and devastating floods in Waverly, Tennessee.— The Telegraph (@Telegraph) August 23, 2021
🔴At least 22 people were killed while search and rescue efforts continue for 45 missing after flash floods swept through the US state of Tennessee
Read more: https://t.co/4SZcR1BVvz pic.twitter.com/FvGvUFNOKM
Six-year-old Cooper is now being hailed as a hero. When the rescue team arrived, they found the boy and Cooper holding onto dear life. The boy was mostly unscathed but the dog suffered a scrape on his rear, according to Daily Mail. But despite the difficult time he went through, Cooper's energy was still intact when he was taken to the clinic, where he immediately started licking the staff and wagging his tail endlessly.
Hero dog named Cooper saves young autistic boy from Tennessee floodwaters https://t.co/CbhVpCHXtL— Daily Mail US (@DailyMail) August 26, 2021
Dr. Jessica Peek, who owns the Waverly Animal Clinic where Cooper was taken after his long yet courageous day, said, "We've been calling him Big Hero Dog all week long. He's a living sweety and we've been giving him lots of treats, telling him he's a hero." They even tried to help look for his owners. Zaneta Warren posted on Concerned Citizens of Humphreys County with a picture of Cooper, stating: "Looking for owners. The boaters pulled him out of the creek and brought him to the Waverly plaza. He is safe and is at the Waverly Animal clinic. The Waverly Animal Clinic stayed open for lost and found animals." They have since been able to find his humans.
A person named Caitlyn Rochelle claimed him and Warren was able to share his story of bravery with her. Warren explained: "This sweet boy is at the Waverly Animal clinic. He has a bit of a story behind him told to me by a young autistic man who was on the boat with him. He said that when he was hanging onto a pole, the dog came down the creek and managed to swim over to him. He said this dog saved my life, he swam to me and made me hold on. He held on to this baby too until the rescue boat got to them. He is such an awesome, well-mannered dog, he deserves steaks and bacon!"
Rochelle was amazed at her dog's bravery but was not surprised that he would go to be with someone in distress. She wrote: "I’m so glad!! He’s always been so wonderful and full of life! It’s amazing he saved one!" She shared that having heard his story made her cry. "He's always been a good dog, a great emotional support animal," she explained. "When my dad and I get depression, Cooper senses it and sits and lays his head on us." Cooper was staying with Rochelle's father when he got swept away. A tree crashed through her house and water soon flooded the house. "Everything we had we lost," she said.
#Tennessee’s flash floods exemplify the dangers climate change poses to inland areas previously thought to be immune from #flooding: https://t.co/u4zwZd5dFX via @washingtonpost pic.twitter.com/iTAkMQ8tWF— Yale Program on Climate Change Communication (@YaleClimateComm) August 31, 2021
Peek explained that there have been many distressing stories from Waverly following the floods. "You feel a little helpless and don't know what to do when people are trapped and looking for their pets," she said. "We've tried to give pets a safe place to be so owners could deal with other things they have to deal with." There was also one elderly woman who refused to be rescued without her two cats.
After the devastating flooding in #Waverly, @nashvillehumane immediately responded to help move pets out of the shelter to make room for impacted pets and give the Waverly team some relief. TY Nash Humane & the #TennesseeFlood community for your heroic efforts. #WaverlyStrong pic.twitter.com/woV8Bkx1pC— BISSELLPetFoundation (@BISSELLPets) August 25, 2021