“He really lived a long, long life,” said Morlan, of Coco’s recent passing that has left many to cherish memories of him. “I think he touched a lot of kids in our classroom.”
Reflecting on when she acquired him, “I was told that Coco was a female,” said Morlan, adding that she informed the students to pick a name for her.”
The kids named him, she said of the little black bunny with white patches, after finding out the bunny’s true gender. The truth came after spending a summer with the Roarty family, which included then Dobbins students Colin and Kyle, Morland who said upon Coco’s return from summer break that Coco had become a daddy.
Although Morlan said she has had other classroom pets, including a turtle that remained part of the class for more than 20 years, “The bunny was the most interactive with kids,” she said. “He would hop from kid to kid while sitting in a circle,” she said.
“He was just a really good-natured bunny that loved kids,” said Morlan, adding that interaction with Coco provided a good way for kids to express themselves.
As Coco grew older, Morlan said “I would tell the children, he’s really getting to be an old man ... we have to be gentle with him.”
Although Coco had many foster families during holiday breaks and summer vacations, two families in particular played a large part in his life; the Comstocks, and the Roartys.
“He was just a delight to have,” said Jennifer Comstock, whose daughter Sarah, now a high school sophomore, spent many summers and breaks with Coco. “You must be the smartest bunny in the whole world,” she said she would tell him, as he would seemingly quiet down as the students went about their studies and he would take in fourth-grade subjects.”
“He was just a sweet, sweet rabbit,” said Sarah, adding, “He loved everybody.
“He was probably one of the sweetest creatures I’ve ever come across,” said Rhonda Roarty, whose sons Colin and Kyle both had experience with Coco as fourth-graders.
Kyle, who is now in the sixth grade, brought him home a few times, while Colin, now a seventh-grader, wanted him as often as possible. The family fostered Coco for the last few summers and during holiday breaks, becoming his adoptive family at the end of his long life.
Aware of his age, Roarty said she found herself dreading the thought of returning Coco this past summer's end. After speaking to Morlan, who agreed that the bunny was getting too old to return to the classroom full time, Roarty said Morlan offered the family the chance to keep him.
It was agreed that Coco would spend a short time at the beginning of the school year in class as Morland said she wanted the kids to see him. Roarty said just days after he came home again, it was discovered that he had developed a cancerous tumor.
Sharing that in the end she would hold him for four or five hours a night, where, wrapped in a towel, he would sleep peacefully knowing he could get up with help, Roarty said the family soon realized they needed to do what was best for him.
Calling her home somewhat of a hospice house during Coco’s final days, Roarty said Morlan and the Comstock family visited Coco before her sons and Sarah Comstock joined her in taking him to be put to rest.
Between visits and his final trip to the vet, “The people who loved him most during the last years of his life were with him,” said Roarty, adding that she feels his longevity speaks to how many people cared for him. “He just loved it,” she said, sharing her profound thanks to Poland Veterinary Center for their compassionate care of Coco, especially that of Dr. Tiffany Preston.
In addition to their memories of Coco, the families decided to have him cremated and along with Morlan, the Comstock and Roarty families have part of Coco’s ashes.
As for Morlan, who said in time she will probably acquire another bunny, but for now the loss of the tiny, furry, classroom family member, who loved to be held and whose demeanor touched so many, is too great.
“He was a real joy for a lot of kids,” she said.
Photos special to the Town Crier
Just another family member, Coco spent a great deal of time with the Roarty's, who eventually became his adoptive family. Pictured are Colin and Kyle Roarty, their two guinea pigs, and Coco. The Dobbins mascot of Elaine Morlan's classroom recently passed away after sharing love with hundreds of students.