Trainers and their dogs (left to right) Renee McNeely with Jeter, Sandi Meyers with Cyan, Terri Schurr with Chester, Susan Stendt with Jonah and Greg Quintana with McKensie
On Tuesday, March 12, 2103 the Zula B Wylie Library in Cedar Hill hosted a dog show as part of their weeklong schedule of Spring Break activities.
In front of an amphitheater crowd of 80+ eager children and adults, Greg Quintana and his Border Collie, McKensie demonstrated such skills as heeling and fetching, as well as retrieving various objects. He was assisted by four other dogs and trainers; Susan Stendt with her Sheltie Jonah, Sandi Myers with her Dachshund Cyan, Terri Schurr with her Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Chester, and Renee McNeely with her Golden Retriever Jeter. All are part of Therapy Dogs International’s Tail Waggin’ Tutors program which helps children practice their reading skills. Several of the trainers are also members of the Dog Training Club of Dallas County located in Duncanville.
The second part of the presentation was information and instruction for the children on how and how not to approach a dog, what to do if confronted with a growling dog, or even what to do if confronted by a pack of dogs. Several children from the audience were asked to help with the demonstration, which they gladly volunteered to do. A question and answer session after the presentation centered on children who were afraid of dogs, and how to overcome that fear.
Finally, trainers and dogs seated themselves in front of the stage and listened as Toni Simmons, Manager of Library Services, read a story about why dogs chase cats. After the story, the children were permitted to come forward and pet the dogs, practicing the skills they were taught earlier.
If you were unable to make it to the show, the dogs make a regular monthly appearance at the Zula B. Wylie Library, every second Saturday at 1:30pm for the Tail Waggin Tutors program. The main objective of this program is to provide a relaxed and “dog-friendly” atmosphere, which allows students to practice the skill of reading. Many of the children chosen for this program have difficulties reading and as a result have developed self-esteem issues. They are often self-conscious when reading aloud in front of other classmates.
By sitting down next to a dog and reading to the dog, all threats of being judged are put aside. The child relaxes, pats the attentive dog, and focuses on the reading. Reading improves because the child is practicing the skill of reading, building self-esteem, and associating reading with something pleasant. As one child on the DVD says, “It’s pretty fun!”
For more information on the Tail Waggin’ Tutors program, visit the library’s website at www.cedarhilllibrary.org.
(Story and Photos by Scott Hansen)
Manager of Library Services, Toni Simmons reads a story while trainers, dogs and audience sit and listen.
Trainer Greg Quintana instructs 7 year old Hannah Scheffler to cover her eyes to avoid eye contact with a potentially hostile canine.