Meet Tucker, a 7 year-old yellow lab and therapy dog who spends every other Wednesday evening at the Glendale Library for what his owner calls his “spa day”. Tucker’s dog heaven is actually Paws to Read, a program of parent organization Paws&Think which makes therapy dogs available for anyone wanting to practice reading on a non-judgmental ear. These therapy dogs are specially trained family pets who are used in special situations to assist humans. In this case the dogs are available to read with children or adults who might need extra practice or who just love reading and dogs.
To participate in Paws to Read all you have to do is show up at a location and wait for a free few moments with a dog. Many people just stop to pet the dog, but some sit down and read a story, and many of the dogs have fans who come to read with them regularly. Tucker’s readers are mostly children in kindergarten or early elementary school, but the ages of readers can vary greatly. Tucker is a fantastic listener, but he isn’t always interested in looking at the pictures.
Paws & Think, the organization behind Paws to Read is a non-profit organization which strives to offer support for the at-risk population of humans as well as canines. Their two-method system involves training therapy animals to participate in animal-assisted therapies for youth, seniors, and individuals with special needs. They also work with at-risk youth and teens to train shelter dogs and learn life-skills along the way. Check out their website to find out about the other programs they offer or to become a volunteer! pawsandthink.org
Paws to Read dogs and volunteers can be found at Indy Reads Books (911 Massachusetts Avenue) on the 1st and 3rd Saturday of the month from 11:30-12:30 or at various branches of the Indianapolis Library (see their website for times and locations imcpl.org) or contact Paws & Think at 317-520-2729 for additional times and locations.