WellesleyWeston Magazine

FALL 2012

Launched in 2005, WellesleyWeston Magazine is a quarterly publication tailored to Wellesley and Weston residents and edited to enrich the experience of living in two of Massachusetts' most desirable communities.

Issue link: https://wellesleywestonmagazine.epubxp.com/i/78488

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Page 103 of 211

Nonjudgmental Magic Kids, Dogs, and Books Wellesley Free Library's Read to a Dog Program todayfive-year-old Susie, twisting her blond pigtail and clutch- ing Dr. Seuss' The Cat in the Hat, is scheduled to go first. Susie's straight-backed grandmother, standing beside her, says nervously, "I hope you don't mind, I'd like to come in with her because she'll miss some of the words." As part of a volunteer team with my black Labrador retriever Luna in the Wellesley Free Library's Read to a Dog program, I tell the grandmother not to worry. "This is not school, this is not any kind of test," I say. "The whole point of reading to dogs is to encourage kids to gain confidence by having fun in the library with books and dogs. " Not just any dogs—these are trained certified Therapy Dogs who, with their owners, have had to pass a strict test in order to be allowed into hospitals, life care centers, old-age homes, schools, and libraries, anywhere people need affection, comfort, and the nonjudgmental warmth of canine kindness. "You know how in the real estate business, 102 they say 'location, location, location'?" says Sherri Hebert, an experi- enced volunteer who comes to the library with her Welsh corgi, Katie Bear. "Well, with Therapy Dogs it's temperament, temperament, tem- perament. Therapy Dogs are born, not made." They can be any size or shape, but they must be calm, easy going, and utterly accepting of strangers: from old people sitting in wheel chairs or bumping along on their walkers, to bouncy little kids who need confidence about learning how to read. In January 2011, when Farouqua Abuzeit became Supervisor of the Wellesley Library's Children's room, she invited Brittany DeLorme to be the coordinator of their Read to a Dog program. Brittany says, "I jumped at the chance—magic happens with kids and dogs." One Saturday morning a month any child from Kindergarten through fourth grade may read to a dog in a fifteen-minute slot. They may sign up in advance or just show up. WellesleyWeston Magazine | fall 2012

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