NEWHALL, California --A bulldog named Fonzie has become a lovable but temporary mascot at the California Highway Patrol station in Newhall after his owner was seriously injured in a car crash.
CHP Officer Todd Cookston, a bulldog owner himself, was among the first responders on the scene of the collision.
The injured man's wife "was very distraught," Cookston recalled. "She explained to me they had a dog. She didn't know what to do. She had to get to the hospital."
The officer offered to take in Fonzie in the aftermath of the crash.
"I do own an English bulldog who's 9 and knew a lot about them," Cookston said, adding he was aware that "putting this dog in an animal shelter could stress him out" and he could "possibly die."
Rudolph and Sandy Rodriguez were traveling from Northern California to Oceanside at the time of the incident.
"I cried," Sandy Rodriguez said, sitting alongside her husband in an interview at the hospital. "Everything was so overwhelming - I was worried about my husband laid out in the street, and Fonzie, and what we were going to do and how we were going to take care of all of it."
"And he said, 'I'll take care of him, no problem,'" she said of Cookston.
The officer described the dog as "laid back" like his namesake, Arthur "The Fonz" Fonzarelli, the character played by Henry Winkler in the hit TV series "Happy Days."
"He kind of does his own little thing and he sleeps a lot," Cookston said. "He definitely eats a lot."
Fonzie is expected to be reunited with his owners Thursday.
Asked what he'd like to say to the CHP officer, Rudolph Rodriguez, who suffered a broken leg in the crash, said: "Thank you very, very much. You took a difficult situation and you've turned it into something that was very, very nice."
"It's like having a guardian angel right there when you need him," Sandy Rodriguez added.