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.
“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.
“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.