As she quickly reads through each page of her book, Melaine Yerga-Woolwine softly pets Blondie, a Shetland sheepdog, who intently listens to her newfound friend’s words.
The 9-year-old had a chance to read to Blondie during a regular, bimonthly event at the Jo Anne Darcy Canyon Country Library where children have a chance to practice their reading skills with therapy dogs.
“I feel very lucky that we have it here,” Library Associate Kathie Widen said. “They don’t jump up or bark… They just seem to love the sound of children, that’s part of what they do.”
For more than six years, on the first and third Thursday of the month, the library has welcomed the therapy dogs into its facility to allow children to read to the dogs for 10 to 15 minutes each.
“We have some days where there might be three dogs and other days when there might be five to six dogs,” Widen said. “They [are accompanied] by professional dog trainers and their dogs are certified. The trainers are helpful, if the children are reading and have a hard time saying a word they help them along.”
Dogs big and small are welcome to the library and children are allowed to choose which book they would like to read and which dog they would like to read to.
On Thursday, five dogs—Blondie, Charlie, Nash, Penny and Raz—were on deck, ready to listen to children of all ages read.
“What I have noticed and what I think is good about this is when kids start to read they are nervous to read and worried about reading in front of people,” Widen said. “They don’t worry as much when they’re reading to dogs and that helps get them more comfortable reading.”
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