By Maggie Mae…with Ronni Diamondstein
Since I was a puppy I have heard people say to my owner, “Maggie should be a therapy dog.” Because I am small, calm, very gentle with children and a hypoallergenic poodle they thought that would be a good job for me. And I like to have people pet me. My owner said that these dogs visited hospitals, elder care centers, schools and other places to help people feel better and happy. Then I heard about a therapy dog that has children read to him at the Chappaqua Library. I thought this was really a great thing since I love when my owner, who is a former School Librarian, reads to me. So I contacted Miriam Budin, Head of Children’s Services, to find out about their program Short Tales for Too Tall.
Children sign up for a fifteen-minute session to read to Too Tall, a retired rescued Greyhound racing dog. Accompanied by his owner, Anne Quick, Too Tall listens to each child read either a book of their choice or one that the library provides. “We’ve had a number of different therapy dogs over the past ten years and have structured the programs in a variety of ways, but we’ve come to feel that a private session with the therapy dog feels extra-special, even though it limits the number of children who can participate” says Budin. “The response to Too Tall, a particularly elegant, gentle and gracious dog has been wholly positive.”
When Quick, a Young Adult Librarian adopted Too Tall, she immediately began to train him as a certified therapy dog as well as a R.E.A.D (Reading Education Assistance Dog). Too Tall told me he likes the children reading to him and especially enjoys the treat they give him at the end of the session. “Even though it may look like I am sleeping with my eyes closed, completely relaxed with my head in the child’s lap, I am paying attention,” says Too Tall. “I have a vivid imagination and close my eyes to picture the stories being read to me.” And he adds that Quick reads to him all the time too. “Her mission in having people read to me is not only to introduce and foster a love for learning and literacy, but also to share me with others and teach people what ‘greyt’ pets retired racers make.”
“Dogs don’t care if you read fast or slowly. They just like to be with people,” said Quick. A parent of one of Too Tall’s readers told me that she brings her seven-year-old son so that he has a “noncritical” listener. Her son had brought his own copy of a Henry and Mudge book by Cynthia Rylant, which is a popular series about a boy and his dog. Marielle, an eight-year-old from Briarcliff Manor wouldn’t miss a session with Too Tall, “I love reading and I love dogs!”
Quick says she always gets terrific feedback and that the parents enjoy it as much as the kids. “Some of our readers were afraid of dogs before meeting Too Tall. Some were afraid of reading,” says Budin. “Anne Quick and Too Tall have such an encouraging way about them that the response to their visits has been entirely positive.” Short Tales for Too Tall will continue this fall at the Chappaqua Library. Check the Chappaqua Library website for more details about this special program for children: www.chappaqualibrary.org.
Wow! All this talk about reading makes me want to sit on my owner’s lap and curl up with a good book. Then maybe I can be a R.E.A.D dog too!
Contact Maggie Mae Pup Reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org
Maggie Mae lives in Chappaqua with her adoring owner Ronni Diamondstein, who, when she isn’t walking Maggie is a freelance writer, PR consultant and award-winning photographer who has worked in the US and abroad.
Maggie Mae’s Must Do:
Top Hat and Tails Gala October 18th
Launching a new feature to highlight pet events, charities and organizations and am wagging my tail with joy to tell you about a special event for the SPCA of Westchester, the 11th Annual Top Hat and Cocktails Gala. This hot dog of an affair will be held at the Ritz Carlton in White Plains on Friday, October 18, 2013 from 7:00 to 9:30PM. Step out in style with your dog for a fun evening of cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, canine ice cream bar, animal communicator, live music, dancing and a silent auction. Tickets are $200 per person. Well socialized dogs and their owners will enjoy this event that supports the many wonderful programs of the SPCA of Westchester.
For more details visit