Barks & Books

Join the Library's volunteer therapy dogs during our Barks & Books program and read to a dog! 
Open to Grades 1-5. Visit our events calendar to register!

Meet Captain (and his human Kourtney). Small but mighty, Captain is a 5 year old Chihuahua mix.


How did you get interested in therapy dogs and the library’s Barks & Books program?
Kourtney: Captain and I started the therapy dog process around 2 years ago. We adopted captain from a humane society when he was 1 years old. It was around Halloween so he was wearing a Captain America outfit (hence the name!). I knew from the get go that Captain was such a good boy and would be perfect for therapy dog training. It's been such a great experience to bring his goodness to others. Captain has always loved people, especially kids, so I knew Barks & Books would be a great fit for him.

What kind of training did you and Captain do?
Kourtney: Captain and I are certified with Therapy Dog International (TDI) which is is a volunteer organization dedicated to regulating, testing and registration of therapy dogs and their volunteer handlers for the purpose of visiting nursing homes, hospitals, other institutions and wherever else therapy dogs are needed. Captain has completed and passed the courses of AKC Canine Good Citizen (CGC), AKC Community Canine (CGCA), and a test through TDI to work as a TDI Therapy Dog. 

What’s your (or his!) favorite part of his visits?
Kourtney: Captain brings me so much joy, so my favorite part is watching him bring joy to others. Captain's favorite part is all of the pets and listening to the wonderful stories!

Thank you Kourtney and Captain!

Meet Fozzie (and his human Betty). Fozzie is an 8 yr. old lab Great Pyrenees mix and is absolutely amazing.

How did you get interested in therapy dogs and the library's Barks & Books program?

Betty: I have always enjoyed talking with and helping others. Some 30 years ago I had Collies and a friend invited me along on a nursing home visit. I had calm, friendly dogs so I went. No certification was needed so I just kept going back. I even had a cat, Sylvester, who for many years also came along. Later on I became a member of Star City Canine Training Club and a group of us would go to the VA Hospital in Salem with our dogs. I found that therapy work brought joy to my heart. I loved hearing the patients stories about their life experiences and of course about their pets. When Fozzie and I tested last year the tester told me about Salem Library's Barks & Books program and I knew it would be a good fit for us. Fozzie loves the children and the treats after they read and I enjoy working with children and growing their joy of reading.

What kind of training did you and Fozzie do?
Betty: Fozzie was 9 weeks old when he was matched with me to be his puppy trainer for Saint Francis Service Dogs. I got to name him. I chose Fozzie after Fozzie Bear on the Muppets because he was a friend to everyone and from the very beginning I knew that was Fozzie too. At the end of a year Fozzie went to a trainer to learn some very special skills. Fozzie learned his lessons well but when it came time for him to become someone’s service dog, he let his trainers know that he did not want to do this very important job. Fozzie was then given a career change and able to come and live with my family. I knew with his temperament and training he would make a great therapy dog. I signed Fozzie up for a therapy dog class with Star City Canine Training Club in Salem where we practiced many basic obedience skills (loose leash walking, sits, downs) but he also needed to learn ignore other dogs passing by, calmly greet people, accept others hugging him, not to take things off the floor and more). Then I had to register with Pet Partners to take a test. There is a written test for handlers and a performance test for the dog and handler to show how they work as a team. Therapy dog teams have to recertify every 2 years.

Does Fozzie work as a therapy dog in any other settings?
Betty: Once certified, I knew Fozzie and I would be Cloverdale Elementary School’s reading dog. (I had taught reading and math to special education students at Cloverdale the last 15 years of my career). However, Fozzie is not just a reading dog. He participates with me in agility trials rally obedience and has earned his trick dog performer title. He is also my husband’s partner in the sport of scent detection and is currently involved in a VA Tech/Texas Tech research project to train dogs to find the invasive spotted lantern fly eggs.

Fozzie likes to be busy but he also just loves an opportunity to run, hike, swim and cuddle up with someone for a nap.

Thank you Betty and Fozzie!

Meet Lola, our matriarch Cockapoo! 12 Years Young!

How did you get interested in therapy dogs?
Mary: My daughter had a therapy dog and once I retired I wanted to give it a try. Lola is a rescue. She was found malnourished and wandering on the street and taken in by a shelter. She has spent the last seven years as a therapy dog. Lola is a smart girl with a special talent for escaping her pet carrier. Once we were traveling by plane and she unzipped her carrier and ran down the aisle while the plane was in flight!

What kind of training did you and Lola do? 
Mary: Lola is a certified therapy dog via Pet Partners. She has had three levels of training; because we were uncertain of her background we wanted to make sure she was a good fit for being a volunteer therapy pet. She passed the Canine Good Citizenship test and is retested every two years. 

Does she work as a therapy dog in any other settings?
Mary: Lola has a busy schedule! She volunteers at South Salem Elementary School, and in the past has volunteered at area nursing homes. At school she works with children with special needs and they're always excited to have her her visit. She is very calm and good with people with disabilities. She also works with memory care residents. 

What’s her favorite part of her library visits?
Mary: Lola loves being around people. She knows we are going for a visit when she has her bows in her ears. She also likes to dress up and has quite the wardrobe. Halloween is her favorite holiday! She likes visiting and loves attention!

Thank you Mary and Lola!

Meet Roxie (and her human Carrie)! Roxie is the very definition of adorable. She is a 4-year-old Bichon Frise.


How did you get interested in therapy dogs and the library’s Barks & Books program?
Carrie: I heard about Barks & Books through the children's librarian, Emily. As I was telling her about Roxie passing her Therapets Certification, she let me know about the Barks & Books program. 

What kind of training did you and Roxie do? 
Carrie: We had a family friend let us know about Therapets and we thought Roxie's calming presence would be a great addition to the group. First, we had her in the Canine Good Citizen (CGC) classes and she passed that exam. That gave us a good idea how well she would listen on command. We knew she was smart, just not sure how obedient! Turns out she was better at testing than we were! I was a Nervous Nellie upon testing for the Therapets certification, and I'll never forget Roxie walking into the room like she'd done it a million times before.  

Does she work as a therapy dog in any other settings?
Carrie: Roxie does go to some elementary schools, assisted living/nursing homes, and even a substance abuse recovery facility. 

What’s your favorite part of her visits? 
Carrie: My favorite part is seeing people's faces light up when they see her. I love when they pet her and say how soft she is and say what a good girl she is. Roxie likes doing her tricks because her favorite part is the treats, of course!

Thank you Carrie and Roxie!

Meet Olaf (and his human Amanda)! Olaf is a dapper 3-year-old Cockapoo.


How did you get interested in therapy dogs and the library’s Barks & Books program?
AmandaOlaf is my first dog, ever! As a stay-at-home mom, I wanted a “puppy with a purpose,” so I researched what kind of dogs make good therapy pets; I wanted to be able to serve in the community while my daughters were in school. I heard about Barks and Books in 2019 and wanted my daughters to get comfortable around dogs. Mary and Lola (another therapy dog team) were so patient, and Mary was instrumental in helping Olaf and me certify with Therapets. 

What kind of training is involved?
AmandaOlaf and I trained with Therapets’ Canine Good Citizen’s class in the winter of 2021. Therapets is part of Pet Partners, and I completed online handler training through their organization, and we passed an in-person evaluation in March, 2021 to be certified as a therapy animal team. 

Does he work as a therapy dog in any other settings? 
AmandaOlaf and I visit schools in Salem.  He loves children and will do pretty much anything for a treat!

What’s his favorite part of his library visits?
AmandaOlaf loves the attention he gets (did I mention treats? Ha!) He knows when I put on his tie or bow tie that he is going to “work.” I love watching children get excited to see him!  Having him there while children read is a confidence boost to them. 

Thank you Amanda and Olaf!