Quaker, a 3-year-old German shepherd, was used to going to the library with her owner, Greg Quinn. Both live in Westport, New Zealand, and frequented the town library on their outings, ever since she was a pup, with nary a complaint. As Quinn recounted to Radio New Zealand News, she grew up in the quiet surroundings quite happy as Quinn read the daily newspaper and National Geographic, with Quaker often being lulled peacefully listening to the kids read.
That all came to an end, however, once Quaker got to be bigger than a puppy and someone registered a complaint with the local animal control about a German shepherd hanging out at the public library, even though there had been no formal policy about dogs in the library and other visitors were frequently seen with smaller dogs in baskets and carriers. “Our cover was blown, and I was quite upset, as were the others,” Quinn said.
As beloved as Quaker was, it seems, the library staff decided to respond to the matter and came up with the notion of adopting a service where children could read to dogs. With the approval of local animal control, the library officially invited Quaker to be a part of the service, giving her official library status. Quaker’s newfound status wasn’t just a case of doggy nepotism, though. She had to pass a series of tests to qualify, including going under observation to make sure that she was safe to be around children.
There are a number of reading-to-dog services in operation around the world, including in the United States. One such example is the Humane Society of Missouri’s Shelter Buddies program, where young volunteers between the ages of 6 and 15 can read to the dogs, brushing up on their literary skills and learning how to read dog body language, among other skills; and the pups get invaluable attention and socialization, and find potential owners. According to New York Therapy Animals, there are “4,500 therapy animal teams and affiliated organizations in all 50 states and in 15 different countries.”
So it looks like Quaker and friends (and co-workers) are in great company.
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