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Tail Wagging, Furry Readers

A therapy dog named Connie visits a little girl to help her read.

By Alicia SpringerPublished 7 years ago 4 min read

Connie emerged from the car, staying by her Master's side as she strode toward the window-door. She made sure not to dip her golden mane in the dirt. Master would brush her if her hair got dirty, and that brush always vexed her. She could feel the hair pulling along it. Best to avoid all that.

Master kept Connie leashed. Connie knew the leash kept her from running at the moving cars–Master knew that Connie would want to jump on the cars and lick them. Wise Master.

Connie had been an excited pup. She wanted to play. Every newspaper–she wanted to tug at. Every stick–fetch game! But that had been a lifetime ago. She knew better.

Her Master met another human inside. A woman. Teacher. The two exchanged words in their tongue. The smooth sound pleased Connie's ears. She could listen to it for hours. She didn't know the words, but she could feel that they felt from the tones and pitches.

Happiness. Anticipation.

And then...worry?

Master led Connie in the teacher's trail, down to a room full of closed doors. Connie glanced in each room. Little people–kids–they stared out the door at Connie. Making noises. Waving. Hands. Hands that could put her. Fingers running down over her bones and body felt so good.

It reminded Connie of her mother nuzzling her as the lights went down, with just the fireplace illuminating mother's golden mane.

Teacher opened up one door, and led Connie inside. Teacher made sure to run her fingers down Connie's neck and body. It made her feel warm. Welcome. At home.

Few things in the room. Big boxes. Balls. Chairs. And shelves full of books. Connie had torn at a book once. Thought it was like newspaper. Thought she could tug on it, and Master would pull against it, and it would be so fun–

Instead, she got scolded. She never pulled on a book again.

Seated in the corner sat a small child. A girl. She had a book in her lap that fell off when the girl ran toward Connie. Connie wanted to be petted. To be hugged.

Instead, the girl wrapped her arms around Connie's neck, and held her close. Connie could smell the girl–smelled of shampoo, fabric, and...


Old tears?

Connie could hear the girl's heart race. Smell happiness from her.

Connie let the child hold her longer. The child's happiness made Connie happy.

Eventually, the girl let go, but she kept smiling, running her chubby fingers through Connie's golden mane. Connie gazed right at the girl, tongue hanging out as she breathed in all the girl's excitement.

But it didn't last.

Teacher said things to the dog, smiled, and left Master and Connie alone with the child. Child's smile faded as she turned to the book, sat down, and stared at the front.

She didn't speak.

Connie could smell that scent she always picked up before a person started crying. And the child's round face had started changing color.

Connie wanted to rest a paw on the child, to comfort as the humans did with one another. But Master didn't want her to, so, instead, she came close, and rested her muzzle on the girl's lap. They met their eyes.

Connie wanted the girl to feel strong. To feel powerful. To feel as beautiful as Connie saw her.

Slowly, the girl said something–slow, unsure–and opened the book.

Connie backed away, and sat down, gazing intently at the child. Every word the child spoke wavered a little. Came slow. It sounded beautiful to Connie, and, whenever the child stopped to look at Connie, she'd gaze on, tongue hanging out, tail wagging.

The words came faster as she went on. She would turn a page every so often, and Connie would wait until the girl could speak again.

Until she turned the last page. The girl didn't speak. She just looked at Connie, as if waiting for Connie to say something. The girl was afraid.

Connie took a step forward, until her nose came close to the little girl's. Then, with unwavering deliberateness, Connie licked the girl right on the nose.

She rolled back, face red, but smiling.

The girl said something. Connie didn't understand most human words, but she recognized one.


Connie's heart leapt. The human thought Connie was pretty. Pretty! She wanted to lick the girl again, to lay down with her and nuzzle her like Connie's mother used to. Before she grew frail and old.

Teacher came, and Master started leaving. Teacher told the girl to "say bye-bye." The girl looked fit to cry. Connie resisted Master's leash to watch her. She whined.

The girl came up close, and petted her. Connie rested her head near the girl's belly so she could reach, but, eventually, she knew she had to go.

There were other kids to make happy.

Connie looked at the girl, licked the salty tear off her cheek, and left the room.

There were plenty of other doors, and so many other kids to see smile.

Learn more about Pet Therapy here and here.


About the Creator

Alicia Springer

Mother of two. Personal trainer. Fitness is about determination, not age.

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