Spoiler alert – this is not a post about running, it is all about Bennie The Dog (or BTD for short). I post every now and then about taking my dog to read to kids at the library. If you follow me on Instagram, then you’ve probably already seen more pictures than you can take of Bennie. He is 6 years old this year, and looks like a larger Chihuahua, or maybe a Jack Russell Terrier with Chihuahua ears.
I had the opportunity to join the SHARE a book volunteer group through the Marin County library almost two years ago now. It is a great organization that pairs human & dog volunteer teams with different libraries, schools, and after school programs. The idea being it helps the kids in the program get used to reading out loud. I had my fair share of teasing and bullying (who didn’t – especially in junior high!), and I remember the feeling of dread when being called on to read out loud – and I was even a kid who LOVED to read. For some kids though, that feeling translates into aliteracy – they have basic reading skills, but don’t want to read. You can read more about SHARE a book here.
The great thing about dogs is they have no ego, and no judgment – or at least they can’t voice it if they do haha! Sometimes I think Bennie judges me for getting him up so early in the morning when I go out to run. Anyway, the kids usually have an easier time reading out loud to someone so happy and furry and wagging their tail.
I will say that the training for this program is tough! The dogs have to learn some tough commands. For the people going through the program, we have to be taught how to interact with the children – especially those with learning disabilities. Bennie had to go through an obstacle course as his final test. The obstacle course had delicious dog treats and people food laying on the ground, children’s toys that looked deceptively like dog toys, and loads of other distractions.
Sometimes he has to sit patiently while the kids pet – and sometimes accidentally pull – on his little ears. He does great hanging out, and genuinely gets excited when I get his name tag out to go to the library. He always gets a big dog bone when we are done, and the librarians love to see him almost as much as the kids do.
Right now we are going through a training process for the local hospital. I have to get a lot of immunizations, and he will probably have to go through another obstacle course. Luckily for me, he is pretty easy to train – and would walk over hot coals for any edible morsel of any kind HA!
With love & paw prints,
J Bird & BTD