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Coco the therapy dog returns to Del Sol Medical Center after long Covid hiatus

EL PASO, Texas -- Coco the therapy dog is back to giving snuggles after more than two and a half years. Del Sol Medical Center welcomed her back this month for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"She was working here about three months prior to COVID, and once COVID hit she was on hiatus for a little while until we were cleared to come back. Now when we came back it was like her being home again," said Rodd Garcia, Coco's handler and owner.

Garcia said after her time away, Coco fell right back into place.

"She was excited to be here. That tail was wagging like crazy and she just didn't know which way to turn. She got a lot of attention. She gave a lot of love and she was well received. A very warm welcome, you know welcomed back to the hospital," said Garcia.

Garcia said he loves seeing the mood shift when people interact with Coco.

"This is what it's all about. They get to see the dog, interact with the dog, it's kind of like they forget about their issues, their illness for at least a little while," said Garcia. "Quite honestly it helps people to heal a little bit."

Garcia says Coco's therapy services aren't reserved for patients at the Del Sol Medical Center, Coco willingly accepts treats and playful pets from the staff, too.

"For anybody that works in a hospital, whether it's gonna be custodial, whether it's people in the kitchen, you know everybody, everybody working in the hospital or in the medical field can be quite stressful there's a lot going on and to see a dog, the main response that I get is she just made my day, and that's what it's all about," said Garcia.

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Sarah Coria

multimedia journalist

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