Monday, May 30, 2016

A Nod to the Service Dog

A Nod to the Service Dog One of my favorite school libraries is within the school of VFES (Valley Forge Educational Services) which is located in Malvern Pennsylvania. Maggie and I have been lucky enough to visit there for the past two years. We have met many wonderful children (and faculty). So why do I love the library so much? When you walk in you are greeted with many bright welcoming colors. It is like you are embraced with a warm hug. As I sit there and listen to the children practice their reading to Maggie I sneak a peek at the titles of the many hundreds of books. I yearn to stay after our official visit and spend a lazy afternoon reliving my youth with the likes of Dr Suess, The Hardy Boys and The Nancy Drew series. I admire the Librarian as she greets each child by name when they enter. They take their seat at a table and await instructions. On a day when the therapy animals arrive we wait for the children to gather. We introduce our pets and give a little history about them This could be their age, where they were born or even if they have any siblings. We generally finish with a question about our pets to see if the children remember us from the previous visit, (which of course they do). I’ll never forget one visit last year when we entered the library we unexpectedly encountered a service dog sitting with its handler. Maggie looked at the dog, the service dog looked at Maggie and I could have sworn I saw the slightest nod from each of the dogs, as if so say “good job!” Other than that there was no interaction between these animals during our visit. Service dogs provide support or some type of function that an individual with a disability cannot perform for him or herself. This differs tremendously then Maggie who is a therapy dog. The service dog sat quietly throughout our stay and once the visit was over got up and left quietly with the rest of the group. What I found interesting was that the children knew they could pet the therapy dogs but the service dog was off limits. They had been taught well.

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