From left, Jolie Thellab, 7; Lakoda Barnes, 6; and Max Thellab, 8, read to Cavalier King Daniels Spaniels Georgy and Willy as Ellen Leber watches.
SEMINOLE – Children and dogs just simply go together.
So when the Seminole Community Library had the opportunity to bring in a pair of dogs from a local owner, Youth Services Supervisor Jill Storm gave the thumbs up.
It isn’t the first time the library has used dogs in its children’s reading program. It’s been done twice before for short intervals. But for one reason or another it was discontinued.
A few months ago, Seminole resident Ellen Leber thought her two Cavalier King Charles Spaniels might make a good addition to the children’s program. So Leber contacted library aid Lynn Losasso about the possibility and Losasso got the ball rolling.
“I love dogs,” said Losasso. “So I pushed Jill (Storm) to get them in here.”
Shortly thereafter, Leber’s two dogs – Georgy and Willy – were a part of the weekly Magic Carpet Reading Club on Mondays at 10 a.m.
During club meetings, children read to the dogs from various books of their choice. The main objective of the program is to provide a relaxed and “dog-friendly” atmosphere, which allows students in kindergarten to third grade to practice the skill of reading. The idea is to build excitement about reading.
“Dogs are very non-judgmental and this provides a nurturing environment,” said Losasso. “It’s a fun thing that encourages children to read.”
Leber has been heavily involved with Project PUP, which stands for Pets Uplifting People, for about seven years. She has used her animals as therapy dogs at nursing homes and with invalid veterans, as well as with terminal patients referred by Suncoast Hospice.
When she noticed other dogs being used in other area libraries in children’s reading programs, Leber decided to approach the Seminole Library.
“We’re thrilled they’re doing it,” Leber said. “I saw another librarian doing it and I thought it would be good here.”
“She (Leber) has enhanced the program and made people come to it,” said Losasso.
Due to the success this summer, Leber will continue to use her dogs in conjunction with the children’s reading club this fall during the week after school.
For more information on the library’s children’s reading program, call 394-6913.
For information about Project Pup, call Leber at 593-9395.