You can take almost anything out of libraries these days, but this one requires a leash.
Eight therapy dogs will be available on loan from the Canine Library on Saturday for 15-minute outings as part of Vancouver’s Poetry in Parks initiative.
Anna Boekhoven put her arm around Pig the dog on Friday as she read him her favorite poem.
The six-year-old border collie rubbed his nose against his face, then settled down to read, his head resting on his crossed paws.
Boekhoven, who is the volunteer therapy dog program coordinator at St. John Ambulance, finished reading Shel Silverstein’s poem “Where the Sidewalk Ends” and Pig looked up at her and pricked up his ears.
“You liked it, didn’t you?” she cooed at Pig.
Candie Tanaka of the Vancouver Public Library said the event will give people the opportunity to sit with a dog and handler and read the material provided or bring their own.
The Vancouver Public Library has a poetry program every year in city parks, and this time they wanted to do something different, she said.
“The main goal, according to the park’s board of directors, was to foster better relationships between dog owners and non-dog owners in dog parks. There is some animosity there,” Tanaka said.
So they decided to combine their “human library” with the Paws 4 Stories program and created a “dog library,” she said.
Ashten Black, of the therapy dog program at St. John Ambulance in British Columbia and the Yukon, said the event is similar to a literacy initiative.
“We are trying to spread a moment of joy to those who want it,” she said. “Our dogs don’t judge, and we find reading to a dog both very comforting and a little disarming.”
Reading to a dog is a lot more fun, Black said, adding that canine companions accept mistakes very well.
The St. John Ambulance also wanted to offer people living in Vancouver, especially those who may not have a dog or are new to the city or country, the opportunity to spend time with a friend in on all fours, she said.
“All shapes, sizes, breeds and levels of down” will be at Emery Barnes Park, said Black.
She doesn’t know which books dogs prefer, although it may be unique to each dog, she added with a laugh.
“I don’t think they’re too picky,” she said. “I know my dog, Pig, prefers poetry. He likes the short and the rhythm of poetry.”