As a former newspaper reporter and community producer who covered the Naperville area for about five years, I am so glad to be working in Naperville again. I recently started working as a multimedia associate at the Naperville Public Library, and I am very excited to see the many faces I used to work with and to meet many more.
With starting the new position and also recently moving into a new place out of my childhood home, I don’t get to see my two dogs as much. I have been cuddle buddies with these cocker spaniels since they were puppies. Now more than 10 years old, both Iggy and Danny go nuts when I walk through the door.
The doggy duo used to sprawl on my legs when I slept. I always talk to them, sing to them and even read to them. And that’s why I am so happy to see the Naperville Public Library also showing some love to fellow furry friends.
The library welcomes the idea of reading with dogs and offers a Bark for Books program of which volunteer canines and their owners visit the library. Representing local therapy dog organizations, the dogs will be all ears from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 21, at Nichols Library, 200 W. Jefferson Ave.; and from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Jan. 11 at Naper Blvd. Library, 2035 S. Naper Blvd. Children, who are in first through fifth grades, may bring a book or choose a library book and cozy up with a volunteer dog. Parents and siblings can meet the dogs at 12:30 p.m. the day of the program.
Volunteer dogs as small as miniature dachshunds and as large as Bernese mountain dogs and mastiffs have visited the library, said Carla Eisley, children’s services associate at the Naperville Public Library.
The program is in partnership with Two Bostons, a pet boutique in Naperville; Naperville Area Humane Society; and PAWsitive Therapy Troupe.
Research shows that working with animal-assisted therapy can increase relaxation, offer many health benefits as well as provide emotional support, according to PAWsitive Therapy Troupe’s website.
“Stroking a dog actually reduces blood pressure and calms children down,” Eisley said.
Another benefit of the Bark for Books program is that children who may not be comfortable reading aloud are able to practice with the dogs.
“The specially trained therapy dogs, who our partner organizations provide, don’t judge, criticize or hurry a reader who lacks confidence,” added Aynne Reist, children’s services supervisor. “They listen patiently and attentively, allowing the child to relax and read.”
And it makes sense, when I pet my two dogs, I feel calm — unless the two barkers are tearing up garbage or jumping on the table. I wouldn’t necessarily consider my dogs, who both have an ear-piercing bark, as therapy dogs, but they do make me happy.
Mary Rakoczy is the multimedia associate for the Naperville Public Library.