Calling all dogs

Published 10:07 pm Thursday, July 5, 2012

Aiden Ledgard, a third grader at Creekside Elementary School, reads a book on Siberian huskies to Pete, a 4-year-old a therapy dog, while classmate Payton Payne listens during the Suffolk Humane Society’s B.A.R.K.S. program. Dogs that pass the Therapy Dog International evaluation can participate in the program.

Studies have shown that dog owners live with less stress, and the Suffolk Humane Society plans to help these fortunate folks spread the four-legged joy.

Anyone wondering if their dog could become a therapy dog is invited to find out at Suffolk Humane’s meeting next Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.

Therapy Dog International evaluator Patty Allen, of Pawsitive Attitudes, will conduct therapy dog testing.

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The meeting will be held at the Magnolia Ruritan Club building, 1047 Nansemond Parkway, near the corner of Nansemond Parkway and Portsmouth Boulevard.

“Therapy dogs get along well with children, tolerate other animals and want to visit with people,” Michele Thames, Suffolk Humane board of directors president, stated in a press release.

She hopes dogs that pass the test will become part of Suffolk Humane’s Books and Reading for Kids in Suffolk program, or B.A.R.K.S., which involves therapy dogs traveling to area schools to be read to by children.

“Children who have difficulty reading aloud to others often enjoy reading aloud to dogs,” Thames stated.

While the meeting is free and open to all, registration is required for dogs to be tested, and testing is limited to 10 dogs.

Carrollton-based Allen is a certified dog trainer and graduate and mentor of Animal Behavior College, according to the Pawsitive Attitudes website.

As well as being a Therapy Dogs International evaluator, she is also a certified evaluator for the AKC-STAR Puppy and the AKC Canine Good Citizen programs.

She handled military dogs in the Air Force, the website says, and in addition to volunteer work with groups, also rescues and rehabilitates dogs before finding them new homes.

To register for an evaluation at the Suffolk Humane meeting, or for more information, contact Allen on 757-646-1037.

Visit www.SuffolkHumaneSociety.com for information on the group’s activities and to view up-to-date photos of the adoptable animals at Suffolk Animal Control.

Anyone interested can also call Suffolk Humane for more information on 757-538-3030.

Suffolk Humane sponsors spay/neuter programs, finds homes for homeless animals, and works to educate the community about responsible pet ownership.