Newspaper Archive of
Cuba Free Press
Cuba, Missouri
May 29, 2003     Cuba Free Press
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May 29, 2003

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The Cuba Free Press K-9 helps R-2 students in reading addywack anxiously gnaws on a ball, anticipating the arrival of his first grade classmates. Paddywack is a four-year-old golden retriever and a regis- tered therapy dog, owned by former Cuba Elementary librarian Kathleen Tharp. Tharp has been visiting Renee White's first grade classroom with Paddywack in tow for the past year, inspired by catching a segment on television which highlighted the effeetiveness of kids reading to ani- mals as non-threatening audiences. This type of program has gained national attention, with similar organiza- tions pepping up around the country, but Tharp operates alone. Every Wednesday dring the school year, one student in White's classroom is picked to read to Paddywack. They spend time alone read- ing to him while the other kids carry on as normal. "A lot of kids were scared to read. It has really built up their self-esteem and confidence," White said. They, al p4agames with Paddywack. The childrm  to pat his head and hug him affectionately. While Tharp reads them a story, Paddywack sits as a member of the audience, accepting the lit- tle hands that stretch to reach his soft hair. Two career paths converged for Tharp in this latest interest. As a former librari- an and a dog trainer since she was six years old, Tharp is able to combine two things she obviously loves. "I retired four years ago. I miss the kids but I don't miss the schedule. It's fun to be able to do what you want to do when you want," Tharp said. Tharp teaches obedience classes for the Rolla Kennel Club and is vice president of the Meramec Valley Dog Club in Sullivan. She is also certified with the American Kennel Club to give the canine good citi- zenship test. Any breed can be a therapy dog," Tharp said, "I was a tester/observer for herapy Dog"out of Cheyenne, Wyo., which is a national organization to test to see if they qualify as therapy dogs. On my last test, we tested a Rottweiler, Dachshund, Golden Retriever, and a Sheltie," Tharp said. Owning two Golden Retrievers herself, Tharp understands the breed. "They love everybody," Tharp said, "He knows when it's Wednesday and if we don't come it really upsets him." "One girl was scared to take an AR (accelerated reader) test. The dog went with her, and'we couldn't keep her off of the (the computer)," White said. Paddywack has titles in obedience and tracking gained through Tharp's frequent trips to various dog shows in St. Louis, Springfield, Sedalia, Columbia, Sullivan and "all over." Teaching two classes per year (in the spring and fall) in Rolla, Tharp is considering teaching a class in Cuba. Recommended by Rolla and Fort Leonard Wood veterinarians, Tharp does not have any trouble keeping her classes full. She has witnessed the power of canine companions. She described an occurrence when she lived in Tulsa. A veterinarian living in Tulsa had a stroke, not responding to anyone. Tharp said her mother brought a dog in to see him, touching the vet with its paws. "It was the first time he had shown any response. It's amazing what they can do. In nursing homes it's amazing to watch people's faces light up," Tharp said. Feature i: i!iiiiiiii! !i 12A May 29, 2003 (Above): Students took turns throwing the ball for Paddywack to chase. Smith waits for Paddywack to catch the ball. Tharp and Paddywack will be returning to White's classroom next year to continue helping Instill confidence in young readers. Story and Photos by Christy Hahn (Left): Tharp gets ready to throw Paddywack's favorite toy--a ball. On Tharp'a and Paddywack's last day for the year, May 7, White's class gave Paddywack a gift of a few tennis balls. (Left): Tharp, Cuba tary and dog er, Renee first class. wack, en and regl therapy listens (Below): an tices ing skill Paddy White's take reading "Paddy" vidually. said th( dren since : ..... their self dence.