Zionsville library drive to benefit TheraPets reading dogs


By Chris Bavender

Brady, left, and Bridgette are two dogs that are part of the TheraPets program. (Submitted photo)
Brady, left, and Bridgette are two dogs that are part of the TheraPets program. (Submitted photo)

For the past nine years the PAWS to Read program at the Hussey-Mayfield Memorial Public Library has featured dogs from TheraPets of Indiana to be present as children practice reading skills. The non-profit provides animal-assisted therapy and activities in hospitals, schools, assisted living and nursing homes, home settings and libraries.

“Research has shown children whose reading scores lag behind their peers sometimes have a fear of reading out loud in the classroom. Dogs are non-judgmental,” TheraPets Executive Director Darlene Gosnell said. “When a dog is listening, even if their eyes are closed, the child is eager to read to the dog. They love on the dog, talk to and pet the dog. Reading to a dog helps improve a child’s reading and communication skills. There is no stress and no judgment.”

TheraPets uses Cairn terriers and Westies in its program. Gosnell said the breeds have an inborn affinity for children and their size makes them ideal “as they can curl up and snuggle.”

Now the library wants to pay back the dogs and the organization that have meant so much to the children in the reading program and are hosting a donation drive for items for their care.

“In the past year we have lost six dogs due to age and health-related illnesses. With the large unexpected vet medical bills we were finding that we needed a little extra help to get ahead. In talking with Kelly (Brooks) at the library I asked if she had any ideas,” Gosnell said. “By getting donated items we will be able to rebuild our inventory.”

Donations can be made at 10:30 a.m. Sept. 6 at the Puppy Love Storytime for 3-6 year olds and at 4 p.m. at the PAWS Puppy Shower for 7-12 year olds. Donations can also be made at the Youth Services reference desk any time before the Sept. 6.

Needed items include paper towels, Purex liquid laundry soap, gift cards from Pet Plus, Petsmart, PetCo and Wal-Mart. TheraPets can also use gas gift cards, bottled water in gallon jugs (the dogs can’t drink tap water), paper bowls, and crate mats (23 1/2 x 18).