By Ashley Rader
Generally, the only Great Dane you’d expect to see in a library would be one of Shakespeare’s friends.
So young readers coming to Tuesday’s Summer Reading Program sessions were in for a big surprise in the shape of a 14-month-old Great Dane therapy dog.
He’s named Jackson, by the way, not Hamlet.
Jackson and his handler/owner Diana Bowers, a biology and physics teacher at Hampton High School, will be visiting the library throughout the summer to give children the opportunity to read to Jackson. The pair made a special visit to Tuesday’s Summer Reading Program sessions to introduce themselves to the summer readers.
Jackson has been a Tail Waggin’ Tutor therapy dog with Therapy Dogs International for only a few months. Bowers said TDI requires therapy dogs to be a year old before they can begin working. Jackson has completed four sessions as a therapy dog so far.
“Research shows that when children are able to read to other people or to a dog if they are shy, their reading skills increase,” Bowers said.
Bowers got Jackson when he was a puppy after her husband had relocated the family to attend law school. She had Jackson complete training sessions from the time he was 10 weeks old until he was a year old. She said it was unusual for a Great Dane to act as a therapy dog but she wanted to use the opportunity of having a unique dog as a way to give back to the community.