Therapy Dogs Inc. marked their territory at the Harlem Library as part of its weekly summer program on Wednesday.
For the past six years, Therapy Dogs Inc. has visited the Harlem Library to teach children different ways to take care of their pets, said library Branch Manager Amanda Cash.
The group, led by Ann Sprinkle, from Warrenton, first came in contact with the Harlem Library through another library, Cash said.
Sprinkle said the group’s goal is to make the dogs “bullet-proof,” meaning they know how to behave in any situation.
“Every now and then I’ll forget I’m supposed to be holding onto the leash and he’ll go and visit with somebody, and you can’t have a bad dog,” Sprinkle said.
“They’re insured for millions of dollars and we’ve never had a claim, and I’ve been doing this with Therapy Dogs Inc. for at least 11 years.”
For the dogs, the group will take any breed, it just must be a nice dog that gets along with people and other dogs, Sprinkle said. To make sure the dogs are properly trained, they also need assistance from people who love helping with the dogs and have the time to do it.
During Wednesday’s visit, the group brought six dogs of all sizes: a Great Dane, two Shetland sheepdogs, two Labrador retrievers and a coonhound. During the program, each owner stood up with his or her dog and talked about it.
Sprinkle also taught the audience how to approach dogs, what to do if they feel threatened by a dog, and other safety tips. They also demonstrated tricks with the dogs, which included jumping over a pole and running through a tunnel.
“We do programs where it’s fun, but we try to teach them,” Sprinkle said. “It’s an education, but it’s a fun thing, too.
The event ended with the more than three dozen people, most of them children, flocking to the front for an opportunity to pet the dogs. Each year the reaction to the dogs is similar, Cash said.
“The kids really love the dogs, because at the end of the program they let the kids go around and pet the dogs,” Cash said.
The group also visits hospitals and retirement homes, Sprinkle said.
Therapy Dogs Inc. will also visit the Columbia County Library in Evans at 2 p.m. on July 11.