Drs. Gary & Perry Opin with Cooper the Compassionate Canine
Orthodontists are by nature compassionate, caring people and enjoy recognizing the contributions made by many of our valued customers. Opin Orthodontics is not your typical ortho practice. The father and son team of Drs. Perry and Gary Opin has been a part of the GAC family for decades and they set high clinical standards for themselves and their practice.They’re also shining examples of good people doing good things for others. The genuine admiration and respect the doctors have for one another is evident in their day-to-day interactions and the collaborative way they care for their patients.
Dr. Perry knew very early on that he wanted to do something that would afford him the opportunity to make a positive impact on the lives of others. Orthodontics seemed to be the perfect fit. He earned his B.A. from Colgate University and received his dental degree from NYU, followed by his Master’s degree and certificate in orthodontics before going on to serve as a Captain in the US Army Dental Corps. Dr. Perry also received a United States Public Health and Training Fellowship Grant for the treatment of cleft lip and palate and craniofacial defects from the prestigious Lancaster Institute.
Dr. Gary has always shared his father’s passion for orthodontics and the opportunities it provides to change the lives of others. He too, received his BA from Colgate University and went on to Tufts University of Dental Medicine to earn his DDS and graduate with honors. He then received his Master’s degree and certificate in orthodontics from the University of Connecticut School of Dental Medicine. In addition to being fully engaged in the practice, he is currently an Assistant Professor and a member of the Craniofacial Team at Yale University School of Medicine and at the University of Connecticut, and is a member of the GAC Clinical Alliance for Research and Education (GCARE) program. He is among the many distinguished leaders and speakers on clinical orthodontics and speaks around the world to educate and enhance the clinical skills of his peers.
When working with their patients to create beautiful smiles, they rely heavily on their team to assist them along the way. They are cheerful and dedicated to improving the lives of their patients and understand the value of establishing trust as they build relationships. One member of their team has been recognized in numerous articles and news stories – His name is Cooper, and he’s a 7 year old, 17 pound Cresteepoo who came into their lives quite unexpectedly. Yes, Cooper is a dog. Dr. Gary received him as a puppy – a gift that from all early indications was, although sweet and cuddly, going to be one hyperactive ball of fur and trouble! Unable to leave this energetic puppy alone, Dr. Gary had no choice but to bring him to the office. Once in the practice, Cooper’s calling became instantly clear. At the slightest indication that a patient was afraid, anxious or otherwise apprehensive, it was Cooper to the rescue. “Many of these patients have had multiple surgeries and tend to be anxious around doctors in white coats”, according to Dr. Perry. “It’s almost as if he has a sixth sense that certain patients are in need of a friend to comfort and console them. Cooper immediately responds by either laying his head in the patient’s lap or jumping up to sit in their lap to offer sympathy and compassion. The patients love him. He’s like living, breathing anesthesia! “Cooper is one in a million. When he senses that a patient is nervous, he puts his head in their lap and offers support and comfort.”
To ensure that Cooper’s role as a member of the team was accepted and approved, the Opins enrolled him in a class through what was at the time known as the Delta Society. Now Pet Partners Therapy Animal Program, the organization evaluates, trains volunteers and screens volunteers and their pets for visiting animal programs in hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, schools and other facilities. The program was established in 1990 to ensure that “both ends of the leash,” people as well as animals, were well prepared to participate in animal- assisted therapy programs. Cooper and the doctors have invested extensive time to achieve and maintain their certifications and ensure that Cooper remains a bone – a – fide member of the Opin team.
Whether in the practice, out in the community or at home with the doctors (he spends time at home with each of them on a regular basis), Cooper is winning hearts. Dr. Gary also takes Cooper to the local hospitals, long-term care facilities and schools to bring smiles to people’s faces in his own special way. It’s not uncommon for patients, children at local schools, and especially the FED EX delivery man to line up to pet him and offer him treats. “He’s a special part of our family and a true hero at the office” said Dr. Perry, “but I have no delusions that he’d trade me for a treat any time!”
It is our pleasure to pay tribute to Drs. Perry and Gary Opin and their outstanding team. We’re proud to acknowledge them as valued customers, respected faculty and thank them for their inspirational leadership.
This article was published in OrthoWorld Winter 2012.