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Peninsula Library Remembers Coco the Reading Dog

April 30, 2020

A staple at the Peninsula Community Library passed away too soon.

Just over a month ago, one of their licensed reading therapy dogs, Coco, passed away unexpectedly.

“It would’ve always been difficult but in the midst of all the closures and students not being able to read to her, it just sticks in your heart,” said Vicki Shurly, Library Director at Peninsula Community Library.

Coco, a Bernese Mountain dog, who just received her advanced therapy dog certification, was always considered  staff member at the library.

“We have had reading dogs since 2006, we were the first library in the county to have a reading dog and Coco was only 4 years old and people loved her,” said Shurly.

Coco and her sister, Lani, have been an important part of the library and a big attraction for everyone who stepped through the doors.

“She just was a great dog,” said her owner, Candy Gardner. “Whenever we would go into the library or whatever, either my husband Lee or I, the kids were always friendly and respectful, but usually it was ‘Hi where’s the dog? Where’s Coco?’ She was definitely the rockstar.”

The opportunity to work in the library was one the Gardner’s and the dogs have always loved.

“Loved her job whenever she saw her bandanna or therapy dog bag come out, you know they kind of puff up and say ‘Ok I’m going to work, I can’t wait’,” said Gardner.

As the reading dog, her job was to listen to children read and be a support for them while they do.

“You know Coco didn’t laugh when a word was skipped or mispronounced,” said Gardner. “Coco would just roll over and listen and it’s really wonderful. A lot of times, nonverbal special needs kids would talk to the dogs. It was just magical.”

Now her sister Lani takes over as the sole reading dog at Peninsula Community Library.

“I am looking once we are able to offer curbside service, which we are not quite yet, perhaps offering a drive in reading dog service for Lani and her mom, sitting on the front porch reading to children from a distance,” added Shurly. “We’ll do whatever we’re allowed to by the state.”

But Coco will never be forgotten.

“We could never replace Coco she was so special but I hope to always have reading dogs at Peninsula Community Library,” said Shurly.

Peninsula Community Library is currently closed due to the coronavirus, but their Little Free Library is stocked with books. They ask you wear a mask or cover your face when you go to take a book, use gloves, and keep the book and not return it or leave another book.

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