Fancying Furry, Four-Legged Friends at the Library

Bar Harbor Library's ne "Reading with Dogs" program continues Wednesday.

Massapequa's filled with all kinds of tales; tales of adventure, tales of history, and now, a new addition- tails that wag.

In a special new program being introduced in the children’s library, kids are getting a chance to curl up with a good book and read to one of our furry, four-legged friends, according to Librarian Constance Smith.

“This program is called Dog Tales,” she said. “Each child gets to read a book of their choice to a dog for approximately 15 minutes. This is the first time we’re doing this at the Bar Harbor library and I’m very excited...I hope that will become a regular part of our programming.”

Kim Keith of Bide-A-Wee, a New York-based animal welfare group, helped to set up the library with pooches ideal for interaction with kids.

"We have trained therapy dogs that we send to hospitals, nursing homes, and libraries for our Reading with Dogs program,” she said. “It’s geared towards emergent readers so they have a non-judgmental party there to listen to them reading; this way they have company, and no one makes fun of them if they stutter or have other problems.”

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Therapy dogs go through extensive pre-screenings, training, and evaluations to make sure that they’re sociable and comfortable among adults and children in everyday situations.

Keith said that the Reading with Dogs program has a proven track record in helping troubled children succeed in education.

“We do this a lot in schools, but it’s not for all children...we take certain kids that are struggling,” she said. “We find that a lot of the time it increases attendance. It also increases their confidence level and their grades.”

At the first Reading with Dogs event at the , the gathered children were introduced to two lovable doggies, both chomping at the bit to make friends and listen to a story - Abby Jane, a Boxer, and Bradley, a Havanese.

A third dog, Yohan, a yellow Labrador, was unfortunately held up in traffic, but nonetheless, the kids seemed enthralled with introducing their new friends to the joy of reading, among them nine year-old Jason Del Greco.

“It was nice,” he said. “I had fun reading to Abby. She’s really sweet.”

Jason’s brother Daren, who has been diagnosed with Autism and Attention Deficient Disorder, couldn’t get enough of reading to the fluffy Bradley.

“I liked reading to the dog...he was very nice,” he said. “I read 'Go Dogs Go' to him. It was fun.”

It’s a given that young Emmy Peortin will be back for the next Reading with Dogs event, to be held on Wednesday August 29.

“I liked that Bradley listened very well,” she said. “And he’s so cute! I want to take him home!”

Smith said that next time, the library is planning on bringing in four dogs for the kids, and encouraged any youngster interested in participating in Reading with Dogs to come down to the library and give it a try.

“Dogs can make wonderful companions,” she said. “They listen, they never argue, they don’t criticize, and they’re very accepting. It’s a very relaxing thing to read to your dog...I know, because I have one!”


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