Reading to an Irish Wolfhound

by Weam Namou

“Paws for Reading” is a special program once a week at the Sterling Heights Public Library. My children love going in the youth services area, where in a special room in the corner, they read to a different “therapy” dog each time. A therapy dog is a dog trained to provide affection and comfort to people in hospitals, retirement homes, nursing homes, schools, hospices, people with learning difficulties, and stressful situations, such as disaster areas. The dogs at the library, which are accompanied by an adult, are so friendly you never hear a single bark out of them – no matter what size they may be.

One day it may be a greyhound, another time a saluki or a golden retriever. We never know which breed to expect until we get there and the dog’s name is written on a sign besides the entrance door. My kids take a number and wait in line. This Tuesday it was a white-smoke hair colored Irish wolfhound by the name of Hooligan with huge friendly eyes that looked at me with a gentle expression, like, “Hey, I’m just doing my job. Thanks for coming.” The children were then given a sticker and bookmark that had Hooligan’s name and picture printed on it.

Irish wolfhounds are soft-natured, easy-going and are the tallest of dog breeds, thought to have been brought into Ireland as far back as 7000 BC. The breed almost disappeared, but was successfully revived by efforts of the captain of the British Army D E Graham to recreate it. He drew the line related to wolfhounds, and as a result developed a modern breed, Irish wolfhounds, which are today well established as companions and guards.

I learned today that the Sterling Heights Library first opened in 1971 in the basement of the City Hall on Utica Road. In 1974, it moved to a ranch house that was where the library parking lot now sits. In 1979, the library that is up today was built on farm land that was part of the Upton House across the street. The Upton is the oldest house in the city, and now houses public offices.
In 2000, the large Youth Services that exists today was added to the building, and thank God for that. I come here often to work on the computer while my kids, just feet away from me, play, pick out books and movies, read to a dog, and ask the librarian questions like, “Do you have any books that teach something?”

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