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Library Unveils Reading Dog Statue

May 31, 2018 06:00AM ● By Pamela Johnson

Lily Garten and Leah Caracino (right) with the statue and a painting of Indy, the Tail Waggin’ Tutor. (photo courtesy of Leah Caracino)

story by Amy Bartelloni, Contributing Writer

Perhaps you’ve been to the library over the last few years and found a friendly Sheltie visiting with children and staff on a Monday evening. Indy was the library’s Tail Waggin’ Tutors dog, and though he gained his angel wings in December of 2016, the library honored his memory by fundraising for a statue of this beloved dog so that children can read to Indy forever in the children’s room. The statue (pictured above), funded by the Friends of the Library, the Library Trustees, and generous donations from the community, was revealed in a ceremony on Sunday, May 6th.

“Today is our chance to thank and publicly recognize Leah Caracino and remember Indy for his years of service to the children of Bellingham,” Library Director Bernadette Rivard told the crowd. She recalled how the program began in 2012, when Leah called the library to let them know she had a certified reading dog and wanted to know if that was a service they’d like to provide at the library.“I think I called Leah back in about three seconds,” Bernadette said.
The Tail Waggin’ Tutors program provided a relaxed and “dog-friendly” atmosphere that allowed children the opportunity to practice the skill of reading. Each Monday night, up to four children had Indy’s undivided attention for fifteen minutes of reading.

“Over the course of the four and a half years or so that Leah was here with Indy, we had them for one hundred and fifty evenings, and about two hundred different kids read to Indy over that time, so they made a huge difference in kids’ lives,” added Children’s Librarian Steve Fowler.
“The statue you are all about to see means so much more than representing the sweet dog who used to visit every Monday night and lie down and quietly listen to the children read a story,” Leah said. “This statue to me represents acceptance, friendship, patience, and kindness. All of these traits were embodied in Indy, and I hope they will continue to mean the same for all of you who continue to visit Indy’s statue.” She went on to explain that acceptance meant that every child who read to Indy learned to read a little bit better without being judged. Indy didn’t care if one reader struggled more than another or got frustrated or confused. “Dogs don’t judge people like humans do. Indy was just happy to sit with all of his beloved readers.”

The statue will be in the children’s room of the Bellingham Library, with a shelf of “Indy’s recommendations” (dog friendly stories). No appointments are needed. Anyone is welcome to come in and read to him.