Tail Waggin' fun at the library

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  • Mazie is a certified therapy dog with TDI.

  • Charles and Vaughan Holderith practice reading with an interested Mazie.

  • Ienduge and Enshuge Akabeeti along with their mom and MazieþÄôs owner Catherine Bawa and Mazie enjoy a story about a mouse

With a quiet tinkle of a harness and soft padding of paws on the tile floor, patrons looked up from computers, glanced around shelves and interrupted their reading when Mazie, the 14- year-old West Highland Terrier and therapy dog strolled into the Sussex-Wantage Library with her owner Catherine Bawa. The sweet and gentle Mazie’s appearance just seemed to brighten the day and cause mass smiling.

“She loves everyone, loves listening to stories and getting her belly rubbed,” smiled Mazie’s owner.

Mazie’s visit to the library on Wednesday, Jan. 25, proved beneficial to both humans and canine. Mazie and Bawa are volunteers with Therapy Dogs International (TDI) which was founded in 1976 and is headquartered in Flanders. The main objective of a TDI dog and handler is to provide comfort and companionship by increasing emotional well- being and improvement of quality of life by sharing the dog through visits to hospitals, nursing homes, schools, libraries and other institutions.

According to the TDI website, it has been clinically proven that general interaction like petting, touching and talking to animals has lowered blood pressure, relieved stress and eased depression. At the library, TDI dogs are “Tail Waggin’ Tutors.” The dogs assist children by letting the children practice reading skills creating a quiet, stress free atmosphere.

Mazie and her owner were able to hear several stories on Wednesday evening. Vernon identical twins Charles and Vaughan Holderith read Mazie biographies about Anne Frank and Jackie Robinson. Charles shared with Mazie and the group that he and his brother were reading biographies for future upcoming book reports. Sisters Ienduge and Enshuge Akabeeti were fascinated by the therapy dog and read a Christmas story about a mouse.

When story time concluded Mazie stretched, yawned and continuously wagged her tail, the children were all smiles and went home with arms full of library books. Several of the branches of the Sussex County Library System participate in the Read to a Dog program. According to Sussex-Wantage branch librarian Sara Branagan, the program will take a short hiatus and resume in the spring. For future dates and times of the Read to a Dog program, contact the Sussex-Wantage Library 973-875-3940.

For more information on TDI, visit tdi-dog.org or call 973-252-9800.

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