Volunteers come in all shapes and sizes.
Some have four legs.
All-Around READing Dogs
Indiana ~ "Elsa"  

A hug from a child to Elsa, a golden retriever Reading Education Assistance Dog.

Doggone, that's a great book!

During the summer, Elsa spends 3-1/2 hours every Friday afternoon at the Lawrence Branch of the Indianapolis Marion County Public Library. She will continue in the fall, after school starts, but will visit just once a month on a Saturday.

Children love reading to this golden retriever.

Elsa has her favorites, in case the children
wonder what to read.

Golden Retrievers are popular as pets, show dogs, and obedience competitors. They seem to display enthusiasm for everything, and are known as "everybody's friend." When not working, Elsa enjoys playing at home with Max, her older dog brother. He's been sick recently, and she seems to watch out for him. Because of her special, caring nature, Elsa is often called by a special name: “Elsa Nightingale.”

Chidren and Elsa, a golden retriever therapy dog.

Sometimes it's hard to say good-bye
at the end of the school year.

Elsa and her owner, Rosemary, have had many extraordinary experiences during their library and school visits. Rosemary describes one special afternoon: "Today at one of the schools I volunteer at one of my 3rd grade boys was reading to Elsa. At one point, he stopped reading and started to pet Elsa's face and head. He said to me, 'I think Elsa has a soul, don't you?' I of course said yes, and he smiled at me. Then I looked for the closest box of Kleenex in the classroom!" As she says, no matter what our country is enduring and the difficulties in our lives, we still have the unconditional love of dogs and the innocence of children.

As you can see, Elsa has a lot to do. Certainly it’s easy to understand how she earned her other special nickname, “Elsa, the Golden Achiever.”

Books about Golden Retrievers include:

My Big Dog, By Janet Stevens (illustrator) & Susan Stevens Crummel
Life is Good!: Lessons in Joyful Living , by by Trixie Koontz, Dean Koontz (editor)
Riptide, by Frances Ward Weller

Elsa, a Golden Retriever, was born in 2003. Along with her very special human helper, Rosemary, she is a registered Pet Partner, a R.E.A.D.® team member, and a "Paws to Read" volunteer. The pictures on this page are from her experiences as the reading dog at Eagle Elementary School in Brownsburg.

This golden retriever is a therapy dog that helps children practice reading.

Elsa is fascinated by this story!

Elsa is a very busy pooch. Throughout the school year, she works twice a week in a second grade classroom at Eagle Elementary. The children enjoy her visits so much, they ask their teacher every day whether Elsa is coming, even though they know she will be there just on Tuesdays and Thursdays. In 2007, Elsa also volunteers at Reagan Elementary in Brownsburg and at The Center for Inquiry, an Indianapolis public school.

This golden retriever is a therapy dog. Children improve their literacy skills by reading to her.

Ahh, relaxing and listening
to a really good story.

Elsa visited Camp Riley in southern Indiana as part of a meet-and-greet for the new campers each Sunday. Camp Riley is a residential camping facility for youth with disabilities. Their activities include swimming, camping, arts and crafts, nature projects, and horseback riding, and the kids have an opportunity to meet others with similar disabilities. In the past, Elsa has visited patients in Alzheimer units, as well. Her gentleness also extends to the times she is invited to visit classrooms with special needs children. She is loving and sweet to everyone she sees.