Natasha Lovato / NewsBreak Denver
(Douglas County, Colo.) Therapy dogs made their way to library locations across Douglas County to offer free services at the weekly Bark for Books events.
Barks for Books Coordinator Lynn Jankura shared that the therapy dog program started about 20 years ago, but now it’s offered year-round at six of the county’s seven libraries. The locations include Castle Pines, Castle Rock, Highlands Ranch, Lone Tree, Parker, and Roxborough.
The Bark for Books dog teams include handler volunteers and their dogs with therapy dog certification. To be considered a certified therapy dog, both the handler and the dog must meet specific criteria. The dogs are tested and certified to be safe around children and in public places like libraries, schools, and hospitals.
The Bark for Books program aims to provide children with a safe space to practice their reading skills while building confidence.
“Kids often find it easier to read aloud to dogs because the dogs don't judge, and they don't care if the reader makes mistakes,” Jankura said.
Jankura shared that the dogs help young readers, and their calm and positive energy benefits the Douglas County Library staff, volunteers, and other visitors. Because of the dogs' positive impact, they appear more often than the weekly Barks for Books events.
The dog teams volunteer their time during finals week when students study in the library, and the dogs also help kick off the Summer Reading Program.
“Barks for Books is a program we will continue for many years to come,” Jankura said.
Each Barks for Books session is 15 minutes and is required.