The student news site of Brookline High School

The Cypress

The student news site of Brookline High School

The Cypress

The student news site of Brookline High School

The Cypress

The Pups at Putterham are a learner’s best friend

Pups at Putterham makes a return after the pandemic to create a love of reading for young children.

Enso the dog listens intently to the book being read and rolls over, begging for belly rubs. Meanwhile, an eager child reads a book aloud.

Since December of 2023, the Putterham Library has been hosting Pups @ Putterham every Wednesday, an event that allows kids from kindergarten to 4th grade to become more comfortable reading by bringing in dogs. Each week, a different service dog visits the library to meet the children. The space was created to allow children to make and learn from their mistakes in a safe space, and increase eagerness to read with the presence of dogs.

Part-time librarian Marcy Maiorana, who used to be a children’s librarian in Framingham, said that the idea for the revival of this program originated from her. The Putterham Library had discontinued the event before the pandemic and Maiorana wanted to bring it back. Branch Supervisor Ginger O’Day also had a hand in bringing this program back. She said that the idea came about after the library wanted programming for all ages, and was inspired by her own love of dogs.

“We wanted to get something aimed at that early reader, K-4 age range. I’m also a dog lover, so I was more than open to the idea. Marcy was the one who proposed it, but I was like, yes, this is perfect, let’s do it!” O’Day said.

According to Maiorana, the program helps students who have trouble reading or just don’t like reading. Maiorana said that she has seen people become more confident and happier reading. She saw this in a family that moved to Brookline from China and had to leave their dog behind.

“There’s just something about that quiet non-judgement that frees children up and helps them connect with the joy of reading, because then they’re associating it with the joy of being with the dog,” Maiorana said.

According to O’Day, the program is very helpful for people who want to spend more time with dogs, as many families don’t or can’t have a pet for a variety of reasons, and it helps kids that like animals get closer and more acquainted with the dogs.

The dog that visited on Wednesday, Feb. 14 was named Enso, a young Goldendoodle. According to Enso’s handler, Liz Linder, Enso is a sweet dog, allowing kids who are nervous about dogs to get used to him.

“I encourage the dogs to do little tricks, like they can ask for his paw, they can give him a treat. He’s learning to read a sign that says sit, and he’s learning to open a book and point to a place on a book. So it helps relax people when they see that he can listen and engage,” Linder said.

The main audience for this program are kids, like Dalilah. She attended the program along with her mother Sherline. Dalilah read “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Wrecking Ball,” and said she was excited to have been able to participate in the program.

“I feel happy because I don’t think my dog would sit still and listen to me read, pretty sure she has like a million other things to do,” Dalilah said.

Annabelle Hatzieleftheriadis, a preschooler, said she read “Yucky and Yummy” to Enso. According to Annabelle Hatzieleftheriadis, it was very enjoyable to read to and pet him.

“Well, I readed him a book and I petted him a bunch of times and I gave him a little treat,” Annabelle Hatzieleftheriadis said.

Harry Hatzieleftheriadis, a 1st grader who attended along with his sister, said that his favorite part was reading to Enso and giving him treats.

Though the program is only for kids from Kindergarten to 4th grade, O’Day said that some adults still want to do it themselves. Maiorana said maybe they should entertain the idea.

Maiorana said that being next to a dog and reading to it is a magical and transformative experience that helps people feel better.

“There’s just something about the presence of a calm, furry, warm, soft, non-judgmental animal, that brings out the best in people,” Maiorana said.

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