"There is more treasure in books
than in all the pirate's loot on Treasure Island."
~Walt Disney

All-Around READing Dogs
California ~ Amelia  

This is a picture of a Rottweiler therapy dog looking at shelves of books in the library.

Amelia's ready with some of
her favorite books.

Over 6 years, Amelia gave birth to 3 litters, 19 pups in all, and was even given a puppy shower!  Now retired from Guide Dogs of America, she continues to come to the library as a registered therapy dog. She attends their story times and special programs, and is also a great ambassador for the library, visiting all the local schools at least once a year with Ann-Marie. She is part of a therapy animal group called Paws To Heal, and  Pawpals, a read-to-a-dog program held every Saturday morning at the library. The library advertises these Reading Education Assistance Dogs (R.E.A.D.) teams as “a doggone good time where kids can read to dogs for fun and great reading practice.”

Black Labrador therapy dog with books.

Amelia enjoys many different types of stories.

Each child is joined by one of 6 dog/handler teams specially trained to work with children and encourage their love of reading while snuggling with a furry listener. When a child has attended 5 times, he or she will receive a free paperback book pawtographed by their furry friend. The Upland Public Library runs this is a drop-in program, and they encourage young and beginning readers to participate.

Books with Labrador Retrievers in them include:

Character Tales: Learning to Respect the Rules, by Amy Hicks
Looking Out for Sarah, by Glenna Lang
Raising Riley: A Kid's First Lab Puppy, by Doug Truax
Rugby and Rosie, by Nan Parson Rossiter

Amelia is a black Labrador Retriever. Many people know Labs come in black, yellow, and chocolate colors but they may not realize any or all colors can be in the same litter.  Another interesting fact is the breed actually originated in Newfoundland when a smaller version of the Newfie was bred to help fishermen retrieve drifting nets, pick up water fowl, and haul the day’s catch by pulling jog carts. Because the Newfoundland name was already taken, these dogs were named after the Labrador Sea they worked in.

Labrador Retrievers are great family dogs for an active household: kind to children, friendly to most people and other animals, energetic, easy-to-train, anxious to please, fun to teach tricks and games, and an easy-keeper. Willing to play fetch for hours or lie quietly on the family room floor, content to serve as a pillow for a toddler, they have been one of the most popular breeds for more than 15 years. Well-bred Labs have a stable temperament suitable for work as a guide dog for the blind, an assistance dog for a handicapped person, or a sniffer dog for contraband at airports and border checkpoints.

Amelia was born at Guide Dogs of America in Sylmar, California.  Ann-Marie and Ed became her puppy raisers as part of the Guide Dog program, and they introduced her to many social situations to get her used to being around people, noises, smells, anything a guide dog might encounter in her busy day on the job.  Beginning at just 8 weeks of age, Amelia began going to work with Ann-Marie, a children’s librarian at the Upland Public Library. Amelia soon learned to lie quietly at Ann-Marie’s feet while visitors approached the desk for help. Amelia is pretty unique since she was actually "raised" in the library and the kids have literally grown up with her!

Splash into Reading

Amelia in her mermaid outfit is ready for the library's summer program, "Splash Into Reading."

People associate libraries with quiet, but often it is quite the opposite. The constant traffic of children and adults was a great atmosphere for Amelia to grow up in.

With the patience of a saint,
Amelia was a pink princess on Halloween.

At the end of 18 months, Amelia was returned to the school to begin her formal guide dog training, but the breeding department had their eye on her and began to test her extensively as a possible breeding dog for the program.  After a month or so of tests, she passed and became—as Ann-Marie explained to the children—a “mommy dog.” She did not go back to the school but lived with Ann-Marie and Ed and also continued to visit the library.