CRESTVIEW From toddlers to seniors, Walgreens customers approached the drug store's new four-legged greeter Thursday afternoon.


CRESTVIEW From toddlers to seniors, Walgreens customers approached the drug store's new four-legged greeter Thursday afternoon.



Dozer the Therapy Dog visits the store monthly, bringing "hugs," slurps and the warm gaze of his eyes, one blue, one brown.



"Hi! This is Dozer," his owner Angie Nousiainen said as Bobby Barry walked into the store. "He came to make you smile today."



"He made me happy, just seeing him," Barry said as he asked a passerby to take his photo with the dog.



Chance Bollinger, 5, like many children encountering the 4-year-old Great Dane for the first time, didn't hesitate to walk up and introduce himself.



"I like doggies," Chance said as he gave Dozer a hug. "I have a doggie. I always like being around dogs."



Nousiainen said many customers time their shopping with Dozer's visits, following his rounds of Walgreens, nursing homes and the Crestview Public Library on his Facebook page.



"Sometimes they buy him a treat when they're here, so now he watches their purchases," Nousiainen said.



One thing Dozer is not allowed to do is shake hands, Nousiainen said, adding that some people have skin too delicate for his claws.



Dozer is always on his leash and waits off to the side to greet customers, allowing people skittish of big dogs to enter the store without encountering him.



"Not everybody wants to say hello, but that's OK," Nousiainen said. "Dozer understands."



"We get a few that walk in and go, 'Whew! That's a big dog,'" photo counter manager Kimberly Kolb said.



Gracelynn Beck, 1, of Baker, had to gaze up at Dozer, towering a foot above her head. She was with her mom, Amanda Richburg.



Nousiainen said that after reading about Dozer's community outreach efforts on Facebook, three of his fans had their pets trained as therapy dogs.



"I always know he makes a difference when he meets people," she said. "Now, more people are being touched by more therapy dogs."



Nousiainen said she hopes Dozer may one day visit select patients at North Okaloosa Medical Center, and she hopes to find a writer to share Dozer's adventures in a series of children's books.



As Nousiainen and Dozer finished their greeting period at Walgreens, Chance and his family were checking out.



"Bye bye, puppy!" he called out as they left. "See you next time."



Want to go?



Dozer the Therapy Dog visits the Crestview Walgreens every second Thursday from noon to 2 p.m.



Contact News Bulletin Staff Writer Brian Hughes at 850-682-6524 or brianh@crestviewbulletin.com. Follow him on Twitter @cnbBrian.