Canine friends offer comfort to readers
GIRARD — There were no cat stories read Tuesday night at the Girard Free Library, as local children had the opportunity to read aloud to friendly canine listeners.
The program was offered to children who could sign up to read a book of their choice, most about dogs, to a dog listener as part of the “Read To A Dog” program.
Xavier Glodziak, 9, a third-grader in Girard, picked “The Berenstain Bears’ New Puppy” to read to Charlie, a Goldendoodle owned by Debbie Mozzy of Canfield.
“I like to read. Dogs are easy to read to because they listen,” Xavier said.
He said his teacher, Jen Gassman, told him about the library program so he signed up.
With Xavier was his older sister, Madison, who had taken part in the program before.
“I did this when I was younger. It’s a nice program,” she said.
Mozzy said she and Charlie went through training with Pet Partners of Greater Youngstown. She has a second dog, Tucker, who also is a therapy dog and sibling of Charlie.
“We’ve been to libraries, preschools, retirement centers and other places. He has done this two and half years and has had 300 books read to him. All dogs are different. He does well with children and adults,” she said.
In another section of the library, Girard resident Alaina Peffer, 8, a third-grader at Victory Christian School, was reading to Maddie, an English cream retriever, whose owner is Gwynn Buckner of Vienna.
Alaina said her mother told her about the program.
“I like reading chapter books and books that are funny. I read a book every night before I go to bed,” Alaina said, having selected “Clifford’s First Snow Day” to read aloud to Maddie.
Buckner said Maddie has been read to over the past four years, having been to LaBrae schools and McKinley Memorial Library in Niles as well as nursing homes.
“Maddie and I went through the training. We both had to pass a test,” she said.
Maria Selak, children’s librarian at the library, said many children, and some adults, sign up each time the program is offered.
“The children like having a quiet supportive listener who will not make any comments. We have also had children read to rabbits in baskets. The dogs and rabbits go through training. For some reason they can’t seem to train cats to do this,” she said.
Selak surprises the dogs at the end of the program with special treats she makes.
Bethany Peffer, 7, of Girard, Alaina’s sister, read “The New Pup” to Charlie.
“It was fun,” she said.