Library program has kids read to therapy dog

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Noelani Watkins, 6, reads to Tuie Wednesday afternoon at the Whitefish Community Library. Tuie is a therapy dog who visits the library on Wednesdays at 3:30 p.m. for the Read to a Dog program. (Heidi Desch/Whitefish Pilot)

There’s nothing quite like settling in with a good book, but it’s even better when you have a furry companion to read to.

The Read to a Dog program at the Whitefish Community Library is inviting young readers to come spend time with Tuie, a friendly gray Airedoodle who likes to snuggle up with a good book.

The library has offered the program in the past, but recently started it again with Tuie, who is Pet Partners Certified and psychology trained. Tuie’s owner Mary Betz says Tuie was born to be a therapy dog.

“She’s awesome with people,” she said. “It’s her special quality.”

Young readers stop in the shelves of the library and pick a book before heading into the Community Room where Tuie is waiting to listen. They settle down together on some oversized comfy pillows and Tuie listens to the story.

Joey Kositzky, Director of the Whitefish Community Library, said reading to a dog gives children a chance to practice their reading and oral skills in a non-judgmental environment. It can also instill confidence when speaking in public, she notes, and encourages children to read at home to their own pets and offers a challenge as they become more comfortable.

“We are excited to once again offer this incredible program to our young readers,” Kositzky said.

Tuie has been visiting the library for about a month and usually listens to about 15 children read in an afternoon, but the library would like to see even more readers come to spend time reading with her.

Kositzky said she’d like to see more folks who don’t often come take advantage of the events and programs happening at the library.

Tuie is at the library on Wednesdays at 3:30 p.m. Readers spend five to 15-minute sessions with her.

For more information, call 862-9914.

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