Three years later, Harrison and Cocoa are inseparable. He said his daily walks with the adorable, well-behaved dog have helped him to keep his blood flowing and heart healthy. They also probably have allowed him to continue pursuing the game of tennis, which he still plays once a week.
Harrison, who has specialized in research and development as an engineer, said he is someone who is analytical and solves problems by connecting all of the elements. He’s even got a wind tunnel at his home to test wind levels of products as part of a research project. That line of thinking has helped in his approach to his medical issues, he said.
“Heart problems happen to people. You just have to learn how to deal with it,” he said.
Harrison’s doctors at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston were so impressed by his walking regiment that they asked him to be the captain of its Walking Club team at this weekend’s American Heart Association Boston Heart Walk.
Dr. Roger Laham, a cardiologist at the CardioVascular Institute at Beth Israel Deaconess who has treated Harrison, said the benefits of walking for heart health are often overlooked.
“Walking is a great motivation for those who say that other forms of exercise are too intimidating,” Laham wrote in an email.
Harrison was quick to accept the role of captain, saying Cocoa has given him the chance to enjoy his four grandchildren, among other things, and he’s happy to share his success story with others.
“I have my life thanks to this dog,” Harrison said as he smothered his four-legged, tail-wagging pal with smooches and affectionate gratitude.