OCEANSIDE — Children and more than half a dozen dogs from Love on a Leash, formerly The Foundation for Pet Provided Therapy, got together at the Mission Branch Library on July 21 for some one-on-one reading time. The meet-up encouraged summer reading and introduced families to the PAWS to Read program with reading, crafts and dog tricks.
The PAWS to Read program pairs beginning readers with therapy dogs who sit, wag and listen.
“Kids can have a chance to read to a dog,” Buddy Wachtstetter, a Love on a Leash volunteer, said. “Kids seem to like it and dogs seem to like it.”
The program has had great successes due to the dogs’ unconditional companionship.
“Dogs just listen,” Adeline Pinon, library assistant, said. “They’re not looking for mistakes in reading. Kids are a little more relaxed. It helps them with reading challenges.”
Love on a Leash volunteers take their dogs through five weeks of training, and 10 hours of supervised visiting to become certified therapy dogs. It’s a wait-and-see after training starts. Not all dogs have the disposition to become therapy dogs or work with children.
There are great rewards to dogs and their owners who make the cut and serve
the community. Marilyn Ambrose, a Love on a Leash volunteer, was at the event with her 3-year-old goldendoodle Caleb. “We just got into service work,” Ambrose said. “His personality is loving. He likes being around kids and older people. You can see he fits right in.”
PAWS to Read takes place the first Wednesday of the month at Oceanside Public Library and the third Wednesday of the month at the Mission Branch Library.
Love on a Leash volunteers and their dogs also visit schools and assisted living facilities. “It’s something I wanted to do,” Beverly Hodges, Love on a Leash volunteer, said. “We make four visits a week. It’s a team, both of us have to be happy, or you don’t do it. It’s a joy watching residents of the Alzheimer’s unit smile. Kids, too, love to read to them.”