Williston’s comfort dog stars in new book

By Jason Starr

Observer staff

Local writer Karen Sturtevant has teamed with Williston Police Officer Matt Cohen on a day-in-the-life children’s book featuring the first police comfort dog in Vermont — Duke.

Duke has endeared himself to the community since arriving as a cuddly puppy early last year. He has partnered with Cohen on a mission of comforting people through traumatic situations and being the face of the department’s community relations efforts.

The cover of the new book about the Williston Police Department’s comfort dog program. Courtesy of Karen Sturtevant

Sturtevant, a noted local dog-lover, met Duke a few months after his arrival in Williston. An author of two other children’s books, Sturtevant rekindled a relationship with the retriever this past May and began brainstorming story ideas with Cohen. 

“Duke is such a bright spot in the community. When he is around, people are smiling and happy,” Sturtevant said. “After talking to Matt, I thought it would be a great idea to share Duke’s story in a children’s book.”

The book, titled “K9 Duke The Comfort Dog,” is co-authored by Sturtevant and Cohen and illustrated by Max Bahr.

While Duke visits schools and businesses in Williston and appears at community events, his more serious role is comforting people through emergencies and traumas. The book follows Duke through his morning arrival at the police department and a visit to a local school, then it shows his work with people after a minor car accident. 

“There are two little kids and they are on the side of the road crying, and Officer (Cohen) and Duke arrive … and Duke comforts them,” Sturtevant said. ”Duke’s presence alleviates tension, if even for a moment. He makes people a little less anxious, a little less stressed.”

The book will be available for sale starting in early December at Williston Police headquarters on Williston Road. On Dec. 4, Duke will join Sturtevant and Cohen for a book signing at Guy’s Farm and Yard on Route 2A (Duke will sign with a paw stamp). The cost of the soft cover is $15; and the e-book is $6. They are also available on Amazon.

A portion of the proceeds from book sales will help fund the police department’s comfort dog program, Sturtevant said.