Agnes, a therapy dog from Middle Point, sits with Noah Coe at the Delphos Public Library during the first “Paws to Read” event. (DHI Media/Kristi Fish)
Agnes, a therapy dog from Middle Point, sits with Noah Coe at the Delphos Public Library during the first “Paws to Read” event. (DHI Media/Kristi Fish)

DELPHOS — After years of searching, a new program has been brought to the Delphos Public Library.

Paws to Read is a literacy program designed for children aged 6-10 years old to practice their reading skills and gain confidence in their abilities.

The children read to a certified therapy dog to ensure the session remains relaxing and is a safe, non-judgemental space for the child. Several libraries around the area have held similar programs in the past and Youth Services Librarian Rachel Strahm had the opportunity to sit in on one of them in Lima, which fueled her desire to bring the program to Delphos.

“We’ve been trying to do this for several years,” Strahm said. “It’s hard to find therapy dogs in the area.”

However, just recently, Agnes, a 2-year-old Golden Retriever from Middle Point, was signed up and Strahm said the library jumped at the opportunity to finally start Paws to Read in Delphos. The children practice their literacy skills on the floor of the library.

“They sit on the floor with her and read to her,” she said. “She’s not going to judge them.”

To better prepare Agnes for the visit, her owner Amy Lauf brought her in twice to the library to get familiar with the setting so she is calm during her sessions with the children. Agnes and the children will sit on the floor together for 15 minutes while the children read to her.

“We’re doing 15 minutes to give everybody a little bit of a shot,” Strahm said.

They’re still hoping to bring in more therapy dogs when they can find them and by starting off slowly, the library is able to gauge interest in the program.

“I can keep building as we go,” Strahm said. “I hope more people will see this and want to sign-up.”

To sign up for future sessions, parents can call the Delphos Library at 419-695-4015 and leave their name and email with the front desk or to be added to the email list for future Paws to Read events, parents can visit the Delphos Public Library Youth Services Facebook page and fill out the Google form.

“I hope people take advantage of it, it’s free and fun,” Strahm said.