Therapy dog making an impact

Associated Press/PDT Staff

December 29, 2012

Portia Williams

PDT Staff Writer

LUCASVILLE — The W. Gordon Ryan Public Library will host the 1-year anniversary party for the Therapy Dog named Beck for the Tail Waggin’ Tutoring program Friday, Jan. 4, 2013 from 3 p.m. until 5 p.m.

Beck’s owner Kathi Jo Zornes said she is excited about the upcoming celebration party for Beck.

Zornes said the children at the W. Gordon Ryan Public Library love Beck and the Tail Waggin’ Tutoring program has been acknowledged by the public library as one of their most popular programs.

Zornes has been working with Therapy dogs since 2005 and is a certified dog handler through Therapy Dog International. Beck has been certified through Therapy Dogs International since 2011.

“We as handlers provide our dogs and our dogs come in and they lay down and the kids read a story to the dogs,” Zornes said.

She said the kids enjoy the therapy sessions immensely.

“There are a lot of children out there that feel a bit intimidated by reading to adults, but they will open up to the dogs and read to them,” Zornes said.

Zornes said prizes are given to the kids and the dogs as incentive to encourage them and to help them in developing proper reading skills.

According to Zornes, a Therapy dog must have proven obedience, current vaccinations, be parasite free, be well-groomed and cleanly.

Therapy dogs typically serve in a number of capacities. Tail Waggin’ Tutoring, which is what Beck does, targets children and then the dogs also visit nursing homes and hospitals.

“It has been documented that Therapy dogs help to make the people feel better that they interact with. They also help to lower blood pressure, and help to boost morale of the sick,” Zornes said.

Zornes said Beck has more than 200 hours of community service, composed of the Tail Waggin’ Tutoring sessions at the public library, an elementary school and local nursing home visits.

Zornes said people some times confuse Therapy dogs with service dogs, but the functions and purpose are distinct.

“Whenever we do these presentations they are free to the public, all you have to do is contact us and we will do them. Zornes said the presentations usually run between 30 and 45 minutes.

“Grace Peach of the Portsmouth Public Library, contacted us and asked us to do a dog safety presentation for them,” Zornes said.

The event will include crafts, a coloring page contest for various age groups, of which First through Third place ribbons will be given for each group, and bags with treats for the kids to enjoy.

Beck has travelled as far as Oak Hill to perform the Tail Waggin’ Tutoring and Hillsboro for Kamp Dove Tail for mentally handicapped children.

“Beck is very sweet and easy-going, which allows him to be able to work with just about every population of people,” Zornes said.

Zornes said she would like to see people come out to the celebration who perhaps have been curious about the Therapy program.

“This is what it is all about, reaching out, and helping our community. Everyone is welcome, not just the kids,” Zornes said.

The anniversary party for Beck is free and open to the public.

Portia Wiliams may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 286 or