If you stopped by the children’s section of the Augusta Library Wednesday, you probably heard lots of laughter, saw some wagging tails, dog treats, and incredible talent from some furry visitors with the Alliance of Therapy Dogs.
Therapy dogs Buddy, Sally, Lucky, Millie and Maggie helped demonstrate how important it is to take care of your friendly companion.
“Always make sure to touch your dog”, says trainer Karen Lewis as she rubs Buddy’s tummy. “Your dog loves being touched and scratched in their special spot. This is playtime for them, and they know that they’re loved.”
The Alliance of Therapy Dogs, led by Ann Sprinkle, aims to educate and inform children about therapy dogs. This special group of women asked the audience, what is the difference between a therapy dog and a service dog?
“A service dog helps blind people”, says one audience member.
“That is correct, a service dog helps people living with a disability and helps them do things they may not be able to do otherwise.”
Therapy dogs are trained to provide affection, comfort, and love. They may be used for people living with autism, anxiety disorders, in disaster areas, or hospitals. The Alliance wants to teach about the importance of these animals, and how they are ideal and lovable in everyday life.
“A lot of children are afraid of dogs”, says trainer Karen Lewis. “This is why it is important for us to come out and teach these children that dogs are wonderful companions and that they shouldn’t be afraid.”
Sprinkle, a 10 year veteran of the Alliance, approaches the front of the room with English Wolf Hound Sally. Sprinkle wants children to be aware of what exactly to do when approaching a dog.
“It will keep them safe, they need to know how to go up to dogs and this is a great way to show them how to interact,” says Sprinkle.
Sprinkle demonstrates what the audience members should do if they ever feel threatened, along with other tips to stay safe.
“When going up to any dog ask permission first, put your hand down low, let them say hello, and then you may pet.”
The Alliance’s furry friends also demonstrated some tricks which included jumping through hoops, over a pole, and running through a tunnel. It is important to the Alliance that the program is educational, informative, and all-around fun for the kids.
The Library looks forward to seeing these furry friends again next year!