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Read with a Therapy Dog

Released by Panhandle State Campus Communications on 12/17/2018 Panhandle State's McKee Library is now offering a new program Panhandle State's McKee Library is now offering a new program "Read with a Therapy Dog." —Courtesy photo

Goodwell, Okla. — The new program of Read with a Therapy Dog has kicked off at the McKee Library on the Oklahoma Panhandle State University campus.

There are three dogs that will visit the children at the library. The dogs are Reydon, Cheyenne, and Prissy and are certified Therapy Dogs through the Therapy Dogs International (TDI). The dogs went through an extensive six-week obedience training to receive the Good Canine Citizen certification. Then they continued on with a six-week training in Therapy work. The dogs had to pass a national certification test before being certified as a TDI Therapy Dog. Each year the dogs must have a wellness check and updated vaccinations to be recertified. The dogs are insured through the TDI organization as well.

Reydon, Cheyenne, and Prissy have worked with children in reading programs over the past eight years. Reydon read with the same student for two years in his elementary school. The dogs do not judge; just listen. The dog handler sits during the session, but does not interfere. If asked, they will assist with a word, but the program is for the child to be comfortable in reading out loud without interference.

The dog’s handler is Dr. Sandol Johnson, Chair of the Animal Science Dept. at Panhandle State.

She has over 30 years of experience working and training dogs in various activities.

Dr. Johnson remarked, “I like the TDI certification because the dogs are exposed to all types of activities that they may encounter as a therapy dog. This may include work with disabled individuals, nursing home residents, comforting disaster victims, hospitals, and support to college students. The training is intense for the dog, but I knew my dogs would be ready for many different environments”.