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Shih Tzu Brings Calm to Upper East Side Community Meetings

UPPER EAST SIDE — She's one tough — and cute — Cookie.

Cookie, a 4-year-old Shih Tzu, regularly attends Community Board 8 meetings. And over the past several years, she has become a beloved member of the municipal organization.

"I love dogs, and I think she's a particularly cute one," said CB8 member Elizabeth Ashby. "She's a source of entertainment and merriment and she's an adorable dog.

"I think she's a bit of light relief at community board meetings."

Cookie tends to sit silently next to her master, Lori Bores. But this well-coifed canine does not roll over on a key issue during discussions of public policy — even if there's a treat involved.

Cookie's real contribution, however, is bringing calm to sometime contentious community meetings.

"She brings everybody's blood pressure down," Bores, 56, said.

Cookie doesn't just ease tension among neighborhood activists. This spry, sandy-tressed tail-wagger is a licensed service dog, said Bores, who has multiple sclerosis.

"Falling is a really big danger with people who have M.S.," she said. "I'm very active. I take very good care of myself. I exercise. I do whatever I can do. But if I were to fall, she would stay with me and bark like crazy and get attention."

Though some CB8 members were a bit skeptical when Bores started bringing Cookie to meetings in 2010, they quickly warmed to her, Bores said.

"She's been incredibly well-loved," Bores said. "There are lots of personalities on the community board, and even some of the most persnickety members have almost, to a person, come up to me and said, 'This is the most wonderful dog.'"

In addition to camaraderie at community meetings and personal safety, Bores said Cookie's companionship is unparalleled.

"She'll stay in bed as long as I stay in bed. She lays at the foot of my bed and she will not leave my side," Bores said. "When I got her, I was kind of fantasizing that she would wake me up in the morning so that I would have to take her out for a walk. She doesn't do that. When it's 11:00 and I should be going to bed, she'll go into my room and go up on the bed. She's just amazing and she really knows the schedule."

Some CB8 members said they would like Cookie's crafty scheduling to carry over to speakers at meetings, too.

"Maybe we should have the dog as a timer — to bark and drown out the people who keep talking," one fan of Cookie quipped.