Follow the trail of purple paw prints in the Southwest Harbor Public Library on most Thursday afternoons to find out why. The paw prints will lead you to a quiet nook in the library where Will, the Reader Dog, is snuggled down next to a cushion she thoughtfully provides for the children who read with her.
In the Reader Dog program, children with reading challenges actually read books to a dog and the dog loves to listen! A child who may be hesitant to read to his peers is typically less stressed when reading to a dog and the dog is never judgmental of the child’s reading ability.
Elementary-aged, independent readers on Mount Desert Island may sign up at the Library for an appointment from 3-5 pm on Thursdays to read with Will. Please call the Library at 244-7065, or drop by, to sign up for an appointment.
Anyone with a mellow, child-loving canine interested in becoming a therapy dog and a R.E.A.D. team, please contact MJ Penn, Director, Reader Dog Downeast at 244-9661 or visit http://www.readerdogdowneast.org/.
More about Will (and Ray)
Ray Lambert and his Seeing Eye dog Will have been part of the Reader Dog program at the Pemetic School in Southwest Harbor since February and at the Tremont School since April. In all, about 20 children have read to Will. While the children read to Will, Ray, who was a high school science teacher for nearly 20 years, helps them with difficult words by having them spell them and sound out the syllables. He encourages them and praises them using a grrowly dog voice. Ray and Will are an unusual Reader Dog team: Ray is blind, and Will is a Seeing Eye dog. So, in addition to helping children read, Ray and Will educate them on how to behave around a guide dog and its owner. Especially, they remind them that when a guide dog is in harness, he is on duty guiding its owner and should not be petted or disturbed in any way. Of course, while Will is a
Reader Dog, his harness is off, and he's right there for the children. If you think your child may benefit from reading to Will, contact Susan at the Southwest Harbor library.
Reader Dog Tails Wag Forever
Kelvin 1999 – 2009
The photo of Kelvin is published courtesy of the Bangor Daily News/Michael Young photographer.