Featured Pet: Cocoa

Twice a month, we invite our furry friends to work alongside us at Bakery Square. Be sure to check back to meet more Featured Pets of UPMC Enterprises.

Name: Cocoa, but you can call me Cocoa Puff, Cocoa Bean, the Puffer, Beaner, or Beanie.

Breed: I’m a liver nose Rhodesian Ridgeback. My ancestors were first bred in Africa in the 16th century from a combination of Mastiffs, Great Danes, Bloodhounds, and Greyhounds. A pack of Ridgies can trap and keep a lion at bay, and we are therefore referred to as African lion dogs, but I don’t think I’ll be chasing lions any time soon! Our breed first came to the U.S. in the mid-1950s, and we are extremely loyal and protective dogs, but we can definitely be a handful! We are distinguished by a ridge down the center of our backs, which actually grows in the opposite direction of our fur!

Age: I’ll be 2 ½ at the end of July, but I’m still all puppy!

Role at UPMC Enterprises: Executive Assistant for Pawpulation Health

Favorite Toy: My humans constantly buy me toys and things to chew on, but I prefer things I’m not allowed to have. In the past year or so, I’ve destroyed four TV remotes, a computer mouse, a laptop battery charging cable, five cell phone charging cables, two area rugs, two dog beds, six left shoes (I don’t like the right ones), a 32-pack of sharpies (my tongue was multi-colored for days), tons of mail, and countless boxes of tissues, among many other things. There’s no sense in hiding things from me—I open doors and drawers, jump up to take things off of tables and counters, and can’t help myself from opening up bags and boxes. My humans keep asking me when I’m going to grow out of the terrible twos. I have no idea what they’re talking about!

Favorite Activities: Eat. Sleep. Cuddle. Repeat. When I’m not doing one of those things, I love to wrestle with my fur brother (Copper) and my humans, run and jump, chase bunnies and squirrels, give lots of kisses, lick toes, and get into as much mischief as I can. I also love playing in snow or water, and constantly surprise my humans by jumping in the shower with them. I love taking baths with Copper and swimming in my kiddie pool outside, and sometimes I even stick my whole face in my water bowl—just for fun! My absolute favorite activity, though, is using my nose. My fur mom is a cadaver dog and my fur dad is a search and rescue dog, so I was born with a great sniffing device. My favorite thing to sniff is someone’s breath, which I do constantly, and I just don’t understand why my humans constantly lecture me about personal space. My favorite breath smells are morning breath and freshly brushed teeth breath, but I never turn down an opportunity to sniff someone right after they eat—or while they eat. Awkward! However, this is all great practice for when I try out for the Cadbury bunny commercials.

Favorite part about coming to the offices: While I’m still not keen on this whole “adulting” thing, I love all the attention I get, especially when people sit on the floor and play with me. My human parents want to train me to visit with patients at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center, so coming to Enterprises is good practice. However, going to work really tires me out. I don’t know how you humans do it every day! I vote for mid-day naps with lots of blankets and cuddling!

Fun Fact/Best trick: When I get really tired, I growl like crazy when people touch me. My humans think it’s so funny that I sound like Godzilla. I also growl a lot when I’m in wrestle mania mode. I have really strong vocal cords, and I am currently fine-tuning my singing ability so that I can sing along with my brother, who is really good at singing. Anything he can do, I can do better.

Watch the video below to hear by Godzilla impersonation:


Cocoa comes to Doggie Days with Cara, who works as an Executive Assistant for the Population Health team. She joined the team a year ago and enjoys learning about the ways in which Enterprises works to transform the future of health care.

Take a look at career opportunities at UPMC Enterprises.