Saniya Travenia, 8, tries to dodge kisses from poodle Romeo as she reads a book to him at the Canyon Country Library's Read to Dogs program on Thursday. Katharine Lotze/Signal.
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Penny, a two-year-old golden retriever, rested her front paws against 10-year-old Athena Roldan’s shoe as Roldan read “BabyMouse Puppy Love” to the dog.

Penny and four other dogs sat quietly, occasionally rolling over to look at the child reading to them at the Canyon Country Library on Thursday.

Every first and third Thursday of the month, the library hosts an hour-long Read to Dogs program from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m.

PHOTOS: Read to Dogs at the Canyon Country Library

“This is about the most un-stressful situation,” said Kathie Widen, who helps coordinate kids and dogs for the program.

Widen said that many kids who are just learning to read can be too shy to read aloud to a person, but are able to get practice reading to the dogs.

A young boy walks up to Blondie, a 10-year-old sheltie, ready to read.

Ten-year-old sheltie Blondie gets a gentle pet from a young reader at the Canyon Country Library's Read to Dogs program on Thursday. Katharine Lotze/Signal
Ten-year-old sheltie Blondie gets a gentle pet from a young reader at the Canyon Country Library’s Read to Dogs program on Thursday. Katharine Lotze/Signal

“We’re gonna read ‘Faraway Fox,” he said, as he reached out to give Blondie a scratch.

Blondie’s owner, Michael Siwula, looked at the dog.

“Pay attention, there’s gonna be a test,” he said. Obediently, Blondie turned to look at the book.

Around the room, fingers followed along with the words, and dog owners helped sound out difficult words when the readers got stuck.

“Most of them just love it,” Siwula said. He’s been bringing his dogs to the Read to Dogs program for 11 years.

The program requires dogs and their owners be certified, including remaining calm around loud noises, lots of people, and other dogs.

The program is also offered at the Newhall and Valencia libraries once per month. Visit santaclaritalibrary.com for more information.

Athena Roldan, 10, reads to Penny, a two-year-old golden retreiver, as Penny rests her paws on Roldan's shoes at the Canyon Country Library's Read to Dogs program on Thursday. Katharine Lotze/Signal.
Athena Roldan, 10, reads to Penny, a two-year-old golden retreiver, as Penny rests her paws on Roldan’s shoes at the Canyon Country Library’s Read to Dogs program on Thursday. Katharine Lotze/Signal.
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Katharine Lotze
Katharine Lotze is a photojournalist and columnist at the Signal, and can be found photographing daily life in Santa Clarita, or writing personal essays about her own daily life.
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