Saturday, January 12, 2013

In Honour of Service Dogs

The Library participates in a great program called Paws to Read, designed to encourage reading among young children.  The program involves young reluctant readers reading to a dog.  It is a remarkably effective program. Sadly, the program recently lost one of the service dogs, a beautiful Dalmatian named Zorro.

A Farewell to Paws to Read Dog, Zorro
With great sadness, the Halifax Public Libraries wishes to inform its patrons of the passing in December 2012 of Zorro, a popular member of the Paws to Read program. For the last four and a half years, children at both the Captain William Spry and Keshen Goodman libraries have been reading to Zorro and his handler Vivien Lake. Zorro was well known for being a gentle dog and “a remarkably friendly and unflappable Dalmatian.” Due to his nature, he was a hit with young readers. As one parent reports, "She [her daughter] liked the fact that when she made a mistake or found a word hard Zorro kissed her or put his paw on her to make her feel better, that he did not care if she made a mistake.”

In January 2012, Vivien and Zorro were awarded the “Live at Five Maritimer of the Week” title, after being nominated by the parent of one of the young readers they helped at one of the libraries. Zorro also did therapy work at senior’s residences and nursing homes, as well as participating in sessions at both Dalhousie and Saint Mary's Universities during exam time.
Zorro will be missed by staff and children at both branches. The Halifax Public Libraries wishes to extend its sympathies to Viviaen.

The Paws to Read program is a part of Therapeutic Paws of Canada. For more information, check out their website at

In honour of Zorro and his fellow service dogs, I offer up the following reading suggestions:

Until Tuesday : a wounded warrior and the golden retriever who saved him (M)
by Luis Carlos Montalván with Bret Witter

The Angel by My Side : the true story of a dog who saved a man- and a man who saved a dog (M)
by Mike Lingenfelter and David Frei

The Puppy that Came for Christmas: how a dog brought one family the gift of joy (M)
by Megan Rix

To the Rescue : found dogs with a mission (M)
by Elise Lufkin ; photographs by Diana Walker 



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