Switick first got her dog, Cooper, a male long-haired miniature dachshund, in 2008 and her dog, Tesla, a female mixed breed, in 2010.
“I rescued Cooper from a kennel when he was about a year old and I got Tesla from the Humane Society when she was about a year old,” she said, noting that Cooper will be seven-years-old in December and Tesla recently turned five.
Switick got the idea to do Tail Waggin’ Tutors from her friend, Jennifer King, who started it with one of her three Labrador Retrievers at the library in Burlington.
“Each library calls it something different,” Switick noted.
She added that when King’s dog, Emmie, heads to the library, she holds her head up high as she walks past her Labrador siblings.
Much like Emmie, Switick explained that her dogs also enjoy Tail Waggin’ Tutors.
“They enjoy being petted and having their ears rubbed. They probably feel like it’s their birthday and all these people are there just to see them, but it’s really all about the kids,” she remarked.
Having visited both the Kernersville and Walkertown libraries, Switick is fairly new to offering Tail Waggin’ Tutors; however, she and her two dogs have undergone hours of training to prepare for it.
“We just started this month,” she said. “Cooper is working at the Kernersville Library and Tesla is working at the Walkertown Library.”
Switick said they began training about a year ago through Therapy Dog International.
“There are about 20 steps they had to pass and there are classes you have to take to work up to it,” she said. “They are now therapy dog certified and can go into hospitals and rest homes as well.”
Being performance dogs, Switick said Cooper and Tesla like to play sports, and now that they are getting older she wanted to give them a job to do in their retirement.
“This is something they can still do with me and help the community, while hanging out with kids and doing something they love,” she remarked.
When Cooper and Tesla aren’t working, Switick said Tesla enjoys sunbathing and playing ball with her dad, and Cooper enjoys swimming and eating.
While Cooper and Tesla enjoy their job, Switick reminded that Tail Waggin’ Tutors is all about the children.
“I’ve only gone twice, but each time we’ve had a big crowd,” she said.
During her most recent visit, Switick said a little girl raised her hand to go first. Walking past her brothers and the crowd to go up front and read aloud, she said the girl became a little nervous.
“She sat down, leaned in and laid next to Tesla. She took her time and throughout reading the book got better and louder and became more comfortable reading to Tesla,” she explained. “It is heart-warming to see that positive experience.”
Kernersville’s Youth Services Librarian Stefanie Kellum said the first event went well.
“We had six kids that read for about 10 minutes each,” she said. “They loved it. A couple of kids were a little nervous at first with reading, but were comfortable after cuddling up with Cooper.”
After reading, Kellum said the children were able to pick something from a prize bucket.
Walkertown’s Youth Service Librarian Margaret Adam said they had eight children signed up to participate in the event at the Walkertown Library.
“Reading is so important to children. I think we will benefit by having a dog in the library,” she said. “We are looking forward to reluctant readers having a non-judgmental listener and for children who don’t have dogs to have a time to sit and pet and read to a dog.”
Children can read to Cooper at the Kernersville Library on Wednesdays, October 8 and November 12 at 6 p.m. and can read to Tesla at the Walkertown Library on Mondays, October 20 and November 17 at 7 p.m.
To reserve a spot for you child, call the Kernersville Library at 336-703-2930 or the Walkertown Library at 336-703-2990.