Read to a Dog Program in Tucson Libraries
Ricco the therapy dog on his way to work
Children who may reluctant to read out loud may find furry friends an inviting option at the Read to a Dog program in Tucson’s local libraries. The dogs snuggle up to the young reader as they read a story from a book. Even children not yet able to read can tell their own stories while showing pictures to the pooch.
On completion, they receive a paper paw on which to write their name and post it on a glass wall at the Wheeler Taft Branch, in Tucson. Dog owners also share their dog’s “picture business card” to bring home, post on a refrigerator or use as a bookmark or to trade with others at school.
Parents have typically reported that shy children find it easier to relate with others when there is a dog by their side. Children are invited to pet the dog while they are reading and afterwards. Children with pet allergies need to have parents close by to wash their hands and clean their faces of doggy kisses, since most of them are often unable to pass by the dogs without reading to or petting them.
All dogs and their handlers that volunteer for the library’s Read to a Dog program must be certified therapy dogs. The dogs must also be calm and people focused. The websites below list all the commands the dog must be able to do and provide certification. A therapy dog is a very well-behaved dog, not a specially trained service animal.
The following organizations provide therapy dog certification:
Therapy Dogs International
Therapy Dogs, Inc.
The Humane Society of Southern Arizona through their Pet VIP program.