MILTON — A canine which brought comfort and smiles to countless children across the Central Susquehanna Valley as they learned to read has passed away.

Sandy Trate said her collie Emma passed away Saturday, Sept. 5, three days shy of her 11th birthday.

“She was the most wonderful dog,” Trate said.

When Emma was 1, Trate approached the Milton Public Library and asked if the library had a program in which children could read books to trained therapy dogs.

From that time, Trate weekly visited the library with Emma, with children having the opportunity to develop their literacy skills by reading a book to Emma.

She and Emma also participated in a similar program weekly at the Public Library for Union County in Lewisburg. Trate was also involved with her canine in literacy programming at the Degenstein Library in Sunbury and at the Central Susquehanna Intermediate Unit’s children’s center in Watsontown.

“What a difference our dog made for those children,” Trate said. “She impacted a lot of children... she is going to be missed.”

Once programming at libraries is able to resume as the coronavirus pandemic subsides, Trate said she will continue taking her 4-year-old canine Bentley to serve as a reading dog at the libraries in Milton and Lewisburg.

Just after Emma passed away, Trate received a poem her good friend Nancy Haupt wrote about the dog.

“I couldn’t read it the first couple of days,” Trate said, of the poem. “When I did read it, I cried my eyes out.”

Haupt’s poem follows:

It is impossible to forget a dog that gave so much to remember.

She contributed a lot; Emma was a wonderful canine member.

A pup when her family first met; they loved her from the start.

They picked Emma up, took her home, and put her in their hearts.

A rough collie is anything but,

A rough-and-tumble, rowdy mutt.

Emma was the sweetest, gentlest of souls;

She loved to assume the therapy-like role.

As the first library dog of the fortunate two;

A great accomplishment earned by only a few.

Sh ehard so many stories, some old and new;

From William the Conqueror to Winnie the Pooh.

Children were her favorite, and she enjoyed thos ewalks.

With her family, including Bentley, she saw as her flock.

Sometimes she was a diva; a bonnie wee lass.

Was calm and intelligent, but could also give sass.

Emma was really a proud dog to behold:

A beautiful collie of white and true gold.

Her coat was so long, silky and thickly;

“A labor of love” was always said quickly.

When life has been so sweet, memories are a treasure.

She was loved beyond words and is missed beyond measure.

What a life Emma had known; it truly was the best.

She enhanced her family unity; for that, they were blessed.

Staff writer Kevin Mertz can be reached at 570-742-9671 or email kevin@standard-journal.com.

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