An Open Letter from Buster, The Red Hook Public Library Literacy Hound
Thanks for encouraging me to tell my tale. As you know, I’ve been reluctant to let the cat out of the bag (And I mean that literally. That feline thought she had the last say in personal grooming. As if.) Now that she’s busy destroying yarn for winter, I have time to gather my thoughts and let you know what it’s like to be a literacy hound.
It’s not a bad gig. There’s lots of petting, ear scratches and treats. And man, I’m not ashamed to say it, after a hard day of touring nursing homes with Barbara, it’s awfully nice to hit the library and see so many excited kids eager to read to me. We spend a fair amount of time greeting each other. Their little bodies wag back and forth when they see me, and everyone needs to get a pet in. Have I mentioned how great these kids smell? And you know what I finely honed palate I have, but I am telling you – these kids are something special. Sometimes they forget to dust themselves off after snack time, so while they’re distracted with reading me a book, I put my head in their lap and root around for crumbs – just like dinner theater – heaven, I tell you!
Sure, I make it look easy. I stare with wonder into the children’s faces as they read about how some poor sheep has to deal with a problematic jeep, or how a couple of bears share a pair of underwear (that’s bears for you – don’t get me started!). People forget that I’m trained to do this – I spent half of my life in puppy school, then did time in basic and advanced obedience classes. Once I had Barbara completely trained, we moved on to agility training, where I really shine. I still have my certificate from Canine Good Citizen class on the wall, right next to the Therapy Dog certification. Do you think the cat appreciates it? Nope.
But enough about cat. Sure, I like visiting the nursing home – and again – lots of great smells! – but the real fun happens at the library. After the initial meet and greet, I make the kids comfortable by doling out kisses. Guess what? Kindergarteners do not wash their faces after lunch! The things I’ve tasted … But I digress.
After the initial flurry of activity, I like to pick out a nice place to stretch out, and leave enough space for kids to sit next to me. I don’t know when the last time you had someone read you a book, but boy, is it great. I just lie there and listen, and all sorts of kids – sometimes shy ones, sometimes loud ones, read to me. I’ve gone on some great adventures. They tend to like to read me their favorite books, and luckily, they have pretty good taste. It’s not Chekov, but there are treats at the end!
Sometimes kids get so relaxed they start petting me while they read. If I time it just right, I can slowly ease onto my back and get them to rub my belly without them even realizing.
Yes, my friend, life is good. I know you’ve retired recently. You should think about some obedience and agility training. Then maybe they’d let you spend time in the library, having stories read, your belly rubbed and being fed great snacks.
I gotta go get ready. Cat said something about chicken falling on the floor, although if I know her, it probably had a gentle push.
If you have a chance, come by and visit us at Red Hook Public Library. I’m telling you, these kids have to be smelled to be believed!