By A. Campbell
Age: 6 years old
Breed: Well, we conducted a DNA test – just on a whim, you know – and it said that I’m 3/8 Lab, 1/8 Chow, 1/8 German Shepherd, 1/8 Great Pyrenees, and a little bit “other.” The results were very interesting because I’m much smaller than most of those breeds.
Profile/history: Mom and Dad were living in Washington, D.C. at the time they found me. They were volunteering with City Dogs Rescue, a D.C.-based rescue organization. They would volunteer by walking pups like me who were up for adoption. And one day, after they’d been considering adopting a dog, they happened to get matched with me for a walk. I hadn’t even been listed on the organization’s website yet, because I’d just come from Tennessee the day before. The organization didn’t have any information on me yet, even my weight. Mom and Dad immediately loved me but because their building had a weight limit for dogs, they kept picking me up to try to guess my weight. Not purely scientific, but you know, in a pinch. Luckily, I passed all the tests and the rest is history!
Daily routine: Well, I recently welcomed a baby sister – she’s about 8 months old now – so in the morning when the baby is waking up, we’ll all enjoy a little snuggle time. Afterward it’s a morning walk, often to Central Park. I might do some off-leash exploring in that area with the wood chips between West 86th and 87th Streets, right near the entrance of the park. In the afternoon, my walker comes by, and then in the evenings I usually eat a late-ish dinner while Mom and Dad are brushing their teeth. Pretty run of the mill dog stuff, I suppose. However, my most important activities tend to happen on weekends. Our family is very passionate about volunteering and I serve as a therapy dog at St. Agnes Library. I spend my time there helping children who are nervous about reading aloud to develop their skills and confidence.
Loves: I really enjoy taking long hikes with my family. It’s such great exercise and I enjoy being surrounded by beautiful scenery. Of course, my greatest love – aside from my family – is going to the library and volunteering with the reading program. I love kids and Mom says I’m very intuitive. I think I can sense when someone needs reassurance or comfort, and that’s part of what makes me a great reading helper.
Does not love: Boxes. I can-not. They are horrifying. Deliveries to the apartment are so fraught and anxiety-producing. Perhaps the only thing worse is…balloons. *Whimpers*
Favorite store/business on UWS: My favorite warm weather activities include sitting outside at Upper West Side restaurants and enjoying their patios. Two of my absolute favorites are Pizzeria Sirenetta and Saravana Bhavan.
Favorite park spot: I think the wood chip area is probably my favorite.
Favorite treat: Virbac dental chews are a favorite treat. I’m the rare pup who is incredibly dedicated to dental hygiene. I just love getting my teeth brushed. When mom takes my toothbrush out, I get so excited. Proper dental care helps my breath stay fresh and vanilla-minty.
Tell us more about this library volunteer program: I volunteer as a therapy dog at St. Agnes Library. The idea behind the work is that kids who are a little bit shy or nervous reading out loud can practice reading to dogs like me. I’m not at all judgmental and try to encourage them with my calm and comforting presence. Sometimes they like to pet me while they read because it helps them relax and calm down. I usually work with kids ages 6 to 10 years old, but occasionally a younger child will come in. If they’re too young to read, they might just enjoy talking to me about the pictures that they see. If a young reader encounters a difficult word, my Mom might encourage them to explain what it means to me to help them with comprehension.
Reading is such a joy. No one should feel nervous about it and I’m am delighted to have this opportunity to help them practice such an important skill. By now, I’ve probably worked with about 60 children. Wow! I certainly encourage other kind pups to volunteer as well. Maybe its with a literacy program or at a hospital. There are so many opportunities in New York. Spend a little bit of your free time helping others.
If West Side Rag readers are interested in becoming pet owners, we encourage you to consider adopting or volunteering to be a foster parent with one of the many shelters and nonprofits based in and around New York City. These include but aren’t limited to: Muddy Paws Rescue; Animal Lighthouse Rescue; NYC ASPCA; Humane Society of New York; Bideawee; Social Tees; and Animal Haven.