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Dogs wanted for library program

Help wanted: Volunteer reading companions for children of all ages. Applicants must have compassion, fur, and four legs. Tails optional. Empathetic dog handlers must accompany the furry volunteers. As you can surmise, West Linn Public Library’s wildly successful children’s reading program, Tales to Tails, is seeking additional dog and handler teams.

Tales to Tails is a program for children to read aloud to trained therapy dogs and was founded six years ago by then-Children’s Librarian Ellen Credle and dog-owner Barbara Miller, whose yellow lab, Caterina, was the founding hound. According to Barbara Miller, “We observed programs at other libraries and then drafted what would work in West Linn. It all started with Caterina and me.”

Caterina, a yellow lab, was the first dog in the program.

Tales to Tails grew to include four dogs providing canine companionship and reading time on a rotating schedule. The program was recently reduced to 3 dogs when the beloved Bode moved with his family, and late last week, sweet Caterina, the leader of the Tales to Tails pack, sadly had to be put down at the age of 13.

All of the Tales to Tails dogs and their people become part of the library family, and their departures are deeply felt by staff and patron families alike. The two remaining dog teams — the divine Lena and her handler Betty, and always-friendly Ella Jane with her handler Pamela (Bode still drops in to help us sometimes, too) — are currently juggling a very full schedule of readers.

 But we know there is no shortage of dogs in West Linn! West Linn is a dog and dog-lover’s paradise with great neighborhood walks, two off-leash dog parks, and now the Parks and Rec Yappy Hour held at Mary S. Young State Park. West Linn residents love their dogs. If you would like to share your dog, and make a difference in the lives of children, Tales to Tails is for you.

Lena, a poodle, is one of the current Tales to Tails dogs.

Make no mistake, this program is more than fur and fun. Tales to Tails changes children’s lives. One of our young readers — a fifth grader — began the current school year with a serious reading delay, reading at the third grade level. With intensive intervention, including many hours reading aloud to her canine buddies here at the library, she is almost reading up to grade level as she prepares for the big transition to middle school next year.

If you are interested in volunteering with your dog at the library, the time commitment is 1.5 hours every other week. Pet Partners provides a course for certification for dogs and their handlers. This involves class time and course work as well as a final assessment of the handler and the dog.

Each dog must have all of its inoculations and be a good match with the handler. Once dog-handler teams have been certified, Pet Partners provides liability insurance while they are doing site visits. Read more about Pet Partners at petpartners.org and become a Pet Partners team with your dog, then become part of the Tales to Tails family at West Linn Public Library!




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