It should be no surprise that man’s best friend is a good listener.
“I used to work with a program where children could sign up for different times to read to therapy dogs, and the feedback that we got from parents at that library was that their children’s reading improved greatly,” Youth Services Librarian Hannah Farmer said. “Also, that it was a great way for them to practice reading.”
Farmer said that is what initially inspired her to bring the Paws to Read program to the Seguin Public Library.
“I wanted to bring another reading element into the programs that we offer at the library,” she said. “So, I thought this was a great way and contacted Hepzibah (Hoffman-Rogers) at Thunderpaws (Canine Solutions), and she had several people that she put me in contact with that were more than willing to bring their dogs to the library that are certified therapy dogs.”
On Tuesday, eight children waited patiently for their turn to read to one of the four therapy dogs — Elka, Lucy, Kelli and Hannah — and their owners at the library.
“I like reading to the dogs,” Jeremiah Hurley said. “It’s fun, and she (Elka) looks like my dog Ms. Wiggles.”
The 10-year-old Seguin resident wasn’t the only child who enjoyed themselves.
When asked which dog was his favorite, 6-year-old Damian Chavando looked around the room before answering, “All of them.”
Parents said they were impressed with the program and how it seemed the children just opened right up to the well-mannered pooches.
“Colton is a struggling reader, and this really got him excited to read a book,” Stacy Darnell, of Kingsbury, said.
Furthermore, Farmer said it offers the children a chance to read aloud to someone they may be more comfortable with.
“It’s a way for children to practice reading in front of a nonjudgmental audience,” she said. “Not that parents and teachers are judgmental, but sometimes it can feel that way when you get corrected over and over.”
Other mothers said they always make a point to attend the library’s youth functions because it offers their children a chance to socialize, especially if they are home schooled.
“Ryan did it before in Bulverde and really enjoyed it,” Cheryl Hicks, who home schools her children, said. “I absolutely would love to see them keep doing it. We will definitively be participating in it.”
For Yolanda Ramirez, she said seeing her son excited about learning is why they try not to miss an event.
“We always try to bring him (Damian) to the events at the library,” she said. “I like that he learns and has fun at all the programs they put on here.”
As for the dog’s owners, they also appeared to enjoy themselves while listening to the children read aloud.
“I think we finally found Lucy’s true calling,” Donna Bohnenberger said about her rescued schnauzer mix. “This is great, and we are definitely going to come back for the next one.”
With the new library slated to open this summer, Farmer said she would like to see the program continue on a monthly basis until then.
“Our next scheduled Paws to Read program is at 4 p.m. on Feb. 23,” she said. “People will need to call ahead and sign up because we do have limited spaces.”
For more information or to register for the next program, call 830-401-2422 or visit the library’s website at www.seguin.lib.tx.us.
“If they can read to a dog that just listens, it can be such a great way to practice their skills,” Farmer said.