Saturday’s are going to the dogs at Amherstburg Library

By Joel Charron

To encourage children to read, the Amherstburg Library has enlisted the help of man’s best friend.

Last Thursday the library welcomed 10-year-old German Shepherd named “Bosco” a therapy dog from St. John Ambulance.  The Library is hosting weekly “Read to Bosco” sessions aimed at making children more comfortable to read, while teaching children that their four-legged friends can be fun, gentle creatures.

Bosco is owned by Amherstburg residents Geoff and Dawn Foster.

“We’re trying to teach children to become more comfortable to read in front of others at the same time teaching them how to respond around dogs,” said Dawn.

Geoff said Bosco is trained to work with adults and children and have another dog, a Rottweiler named “Puddin” that is trained for adults. The Fosters said “Puddin” would also be certified to work with children by spring.

With Geoff and Dawn Foster by her side, Sarah Wallace, 8, reads a story to 10-year-old German Sheperd “Bosco” at the Amherstburg Library

This is the first time the Fosters brought Bosco to the library.

According to Geoff, there are 88 dogs in Essex County in the St. John Ambulance therapy dog program. Twelve of the dogs are certified to work with children. Geoff also mentioned that Bosco is a frequent visitor at Seasons in Amherstburg.

“If anyone requests it, we go see them,” said Geoff. “People’s faces light up when they see Bosco walk though the door.”

Dawn said Bosco has been in the program for roughly eight years. The Fosters added that Bosco was meant for “something great” when the German Shepherd survived a bout with bone cancer that nearly killed him when he was 18 months old.

Dawn mentioned they enjoy watching the children interact with Bosco.

“The kids love it, the parents are happy about it and we are happier about it because if we teach a kid how to greet a dog properly and how to make it less likely they will get bit then we have done everything we can,” said Dawn.

Geoff said it’s much easier to get a child to read to a dog then it is to read to an adult.

“A dog doesn’t judge them,” he said. “A dog doesn’t discipline them. A dog will sit there and give unconditional love where they won’t correct them all the time.”

Geoff also mentioned at first some children are put off by the size of Bosco but by the end of the session those same children are petting and giving Bosco treats.

Bosco will be at the Amherstburg Library every Saturday morning from 10 a.m.- noon.

Comments are closed.