Reading With Zoey, The Therapy DogNovember 16, 2016
Every third Saturday from 1-3 p.m. at the Falling Rock Cafe and Bookstore, you can find a gentle Great Dane named Zoey in the children’s book section. Children who have difficulties reading are often self-conscious when reading aloud in front of other classmates. Reading to dogs provides a non-judgmental, comforting, furry friend who “listens” and takes the pressure off a child as he/she practices reading.
Zoey is an official registered Therapy Dog for Superiorland Pet Partners, the local community partner within the nation’s leading animal therapy non-profit. Zoey’s handler, Keena Jones, has been a strong advocate for the group in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan since 2010.
While she works with two unique certified therapy pets, “Zoey has more puppy energy so she’s great with kids,” Keena said. And it’s become clear—through her monthly visits to our bookstore—that Zoey loves the children almost as much as they do her.
“When handler Keena Jones approached me about the possibility of having a reading hour with Zoey at the café, I jumped on it!” said owner Nancy Dwyer. “My own love affair with dogs began just a few years ago; a long overdue childhood rite of passage. Cocoa, a 12-week-old Chocolate Laborador puppy became part of our family and her companionship is like no other. She is sweet and playful and affectionate, and just who I needed to accompany me on my hikes through the woods during all seasons of our beautiful Upper Peninsula.”
“I knew firsthand the effect dogs can have on our well being,” Nancy went on to say, “and hoped that we could offer that to local and visiting children at our café. Gigantic but gentle, the children warmed up to Zoey right away. They read book after book to her as she sits patiently listening with Keena nearby—only needing to give an occasional reminder to stay “down”.
The children love petting her in between books, and Zoey seems to savor the attention. The parents relax while the children read, leaning in to sneak a chance to pet Zoey too. Zoey provides therapy for nursing home residents as well, but I rank her job at the café to help children read as her most important task!”
Check The Falling Rock Café and Bookstore’s monthly calendar for regular book events and join Zoey and her handler, Keena Jones, every third Saturday of the month for Reading With Zoey. Bring your favorite book, or read from one of the many books available at the bookstore. All children who read to Zoey get a free ice cream!