The life of a registered therapy dog isn’t all cute kids and relaxing moments in the library; there are extensive tests and yearly physical exams that must be passed. Maple was born for the job though, said owner Ann Josten.
Four years ago, Josten realized she wanted a puppy she could train for the Read to a Dog program at local libraries. She soon found a 9-week-old, fox red Labrador retriever named Maple. Josten and Maple spent the next three years training and when she was ready, Maple applied for registration through Therapy Dogs International (TDI).
According to TDI, the test consists of 13 individual exercises and a comprehensive health exam by a qualified veterinarian, including up-to-date shots.
Maple now wears a tag and red bandana that identify her as a registered therapy dog.
As a therapy dog, Maple participates in the TDI program, Tail Waggin’ Tutors. Maple visits the Sumner Pierce County Library Read to a Dog event every other Friday during the school year. Kids of all ages and reading levels come to visit her. Some read to her, some just show her pictures and often times, older kids end up helping younger kids when they have trouble.
Maple’s presence can be a stress-reducing factor and provides a non-judgemental audience for the children, said Josten. The program has become a valuable tool for helping children and teens practice their reading skills.
Josten said that Maple makes such a great therapy dog because she is sweet, calm and isn’t frightened easily by new experiences.
Maple will be at the library 4 p.m. Friday, May 17. Prior registration is not required.