A five-and-a-half year old therapy dog named ZuZu helped to give young children the opportunity to practice reading out loud in a fun-filled environment at the Huntington Branch Library this past weekend.
Judy Naughright, the owner of the well-mannered poodle, is with the organization Therapy Dogs International.
According to the Therapy Dogs International website, the non-profit organization is dedicated to regulating, testing, and registering therapy dogs to aid institutions where their services might be helpful.
In addition to ZuZu, approximately 24,750 other dogs are registered with the organization.
ZuZu, specifically, works with Children’s Dental Group, where she accompanies children who are afraid of going to the dentist. Naughright said ZuZu’s presence can be comforting to kids.
“When kids are getting x- rays or having their teeth cleaned, ZuZu will sit right by their side. The petting calms them right down,” said Naughright.
She added that she also brings ZuZu to local nursing homes and hospitals.
“Getting her tested to visit [the nursing homes and hospitals] was the hardest. You have to make sure she doesn’t find her way to the food,” she joked.
At the library, families sign up in 15-minute intervals to read books to ZuZu.
Frankie, 5, and her brother, Santino Lucia, 3, were all smiles while reading their favorite books about superheroes to ZuZu.
Shelton resident Aria, 6, came in wearing an adorable dog-themed T-shirt and brought dog-related books.
Naughright’s grandson, Dayoe, 6, loves seeing fellow peers read to ZuZu. He would help ZuZu listen, calm down, and play with her during breaks.
“I hope Dayoe will be able to officially work with ZuZu very soon” said Naughright.
“Coming to the library is my favorite activity with Zu Zu. She is always remembered and she makes everyone happy. I wish I could do more. I love the kids. It’s ZuZu’s favorite, too. She gets so excited and starts to bark like crazy when we drive by the Green,” said Naughright.
If interested in reading to ZuZu, Canine Book Buddies will take place again at the Huntington Branch on Saturday, Aug. 19 from 10:15 to 11:15 a.m.