The low tones of two children reading aloud filled the room March 18 during the once-a-month Paws to Read program at the Englewood Public Library.
The library teams up with therapy dogs — trained by Denver Pet Partners — and their owners to …
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The library teams up with therapy dogs — trained by Denver Pet Partners — and their owners to hold the reading program from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. the third Saturday of each month. There are 12 slots for readers, and children who want to take part in the program are asked to register for a slot by calling 303-762-2560.
Each child selected books and then read to the therapy dog and its owner for 30 minutes. Charley Barker, one of the children signed up for the March 18 Paws to Read program, spent her time reading to Molly the dog and her owner Sylvia Colling.
“This is the second year I have read to the dogs,” the 10-year-old said. “It is fun and it helps me focus on the book and read better. I like to read and I like books about nature.”
Across the room, Chelsea Anderson looked on as her son James read to a dog named Bindi.
“James was very excited when I told him he was going to read to a dog,” she said. “I believe this is good for him. I feel it helps him with his literacy and I hope he becomes an avid reader like me.”
The Englewood resident said her goal is to read 50 books this year. She said she doesn’t count the books she reads with James.
Therapy dog owner Rica Mead said she and her dog Bindi were trained by Denver Pet Partners, an organization that supports the animal-human bond that is part of the national Pet Partners organization.
Each team is made up of an owner and pet. Denver Pet Partners has about 140 volunteer teams. Most of the pets are dogs but there are also some cats and some miniature horses in the program.
“Denver Pet Partners teams are all highly trained and certified to interact with people,” Mead said. “Owners take their pets to schools, hospitals, airports and, of course, libraries.”
She said a pet must have a certain personality to undergo therapy dog training. They go through training so they aren’t sensitive to loud noises or sudden movement.
“My Bindi has gone through five levels of training,” she said. “I have also gone through extensive training since I volunteered in 2015.”
Mead said she works with special needs children in Douglas County schools, plus she works with Englewood’s Paws to Read program.
“The children read to the dog and we are very, very careful about correction,” she said. “We do that because we want the children to enjoy the experience and to gain confidence in their reading abilities.”
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