Furry Tails reading program helps kids sharpen skills

By Marcella Kester - For Times Leader
Helene Skopek-Krygier, Wilkes-Barre, along with her therapy dog, Angie, were at the Pittston Memorial Library on Saturday to help young readers improve their skills. Tony Callaio | For Times Leader Helene Skopek-Krygier, Wilkes-Barre, along with her therapy dog, Angie, were at the Pittston Memorial Library on Saturday to help young readers improve their skills. - Tony Callaio | For Times Leader
Therapy dog Angie, a nine-year-old Shetland Sheepdog, served as the enthusiastic listener Saturday at the Pittston Memorial Library during a Furry Tails Reading Partners event. Tony Callaio | For Times Leader Therapy dog Angie, a nine-year-old Shetland Sheepdog, served as the enthusiastic listener Saturday at the Pittston Memorial Library during a Furry Tails Reading Partners event. - Tony Callaio | For Times Leader
Angie, a 9-year-old therapy dog, listens to Cecilia Coolbaugh, 7, of West Pittston, as Helene Skopek-Krygier looks on at the Pittston Memorial Library on Saturday. Skopek-Krygier is president of Pleasure of Your Company Therapy Dogs, which runs a Furry Tails Reading Partners program at area libraries. Tony Callaio | For Times Leader Angie, a 9-year-old therapy dog, listens to Cecilia Coolbaugh, 7, of West Pittston, as Helene Skopek-Krygier looks on at the Pittston Memorial Library on Saturday. Skopek-Krygier is president of Pleasure of Your Company Therapy Dogs, which runs a Furry Tails Reading Partners program at area libraries. - Tony Callaio | For Times Leader
Cecilia Coolbaugh, 7, of West Pittston, pets therapy dog Angie at the Pittston Memorial Library on Saturday during a Furry Tails Reading Partners event. Angie serves as the listener while younger children sharpen their reading skills. Tony Callaio | For Times Leader Cecilia Coolbaugh, 7, of West Pittston, pets therapy dog Angie at the Pittston Memorial Library on Saturday during a Furry Tails Reading Partners event. Angie serves as the listener while younger children sharpen their reading skills. - - Tony Callaio | For Times Leader

PITTSTON — Nestled between two bookshelves in the children’s section of the Pittston Memorial Library, a group of youngsters sat in a circle as they took turns reading.

However, the children weren’t reading to each other or an adult. Instead, a dog named Angie served as the enthusiastic listener.

Angie is with Pleasure of Your Company Therapy Dogs, a Lehigh Valley and Wyoming Valley nonprofit that uses therapy dogs in a variety of settings, according to president Helene Skopek-Krygier.

Its Furry Tails Reading Partners program visits four area libraries once a month to help children learn to read.

“Children a lot of times are reluctant to read because of peer pressure,” said Skopek-Krygier. “By having one dog, the children lose their problems. They read to the dog. Their fears are gone.”

While the dogs help the children, Skopek-Krygier noted the kids also help the dogs as well by offering love, affection, social interaction and more.

Angie is one of three Shetland Sheepdogs that Skopek-Krygier uses for the program, which is featured at Pittston Memorial Library, the Wyoming Free Library, the Marian Sutherland Kirby Library and the Osterhout South branch. The 9-year-old pooch has been a therapy dog since she was just a year old.

‘Very calming effect’

Laying on a blue blanket, a group of children huddled around the dog as one by one they opened up their books and began to read. Navigating their way through the words of the books, the children would pet Angie and show her illustrations as they made their way through each story.

Seven year-old Cecilia Coolbaugh was ready and waiting for Angie’s arrival, as usual. The West Wyoming resident and second-grader is a regular attendee of the program.

“I like reading,” Cecilia said as she opened up her book about unicorns while Angie laid quietly at her side.”They (the dogs) are good listeners.”

Both Cecilia and her grandmother, Carol Coolbaugh, agree that the free program has helped Cecilia increase her reading and comprehension skills. Carol said she also believes having a pup in the library can aid children in other ways.

“It’s great for the kids that come,” Carol said, adding that the pups help the children overcome shyness and anxiety. “They have a very calming effect on the kids.”

Helene Skopek-Krygier, Wilkes-Barre, along with her therapy dog, Angie, were at the Pittston Memorial Library on Saturday to help young readers improve their skills.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/web1_Furry-Tails-Reading-3-1.jpgHelene Skopek-Krygier, Wilkes-Barre, along with her therapy dog, Angie, were at the Pittston Memorial Library on Saturday to help young readers improve their skills. Tony Callaio | For Times Leader

Therapy dog Angie, a nine-year-old Shetland Sheepdog, served as the enthusiastic listener Saturday at the Pittston Memorial Library during a Furry Tails Reading Partners event.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/web1_Furry-Tails-Reading-1-1.jpgTherapy dog Angie, a nine-year-old Shetland Sheepdog, served as the enthusiastic listener Saturday at the Pittston Memorial Library during a Furry Tails Reading Partners event. Tony Callaio | For Times Leader

Angie, a 9-year-old therapy dog, listens to Cecilia Coolbaugh, 7, of West Pittston, as Helene Skopek-Krygier looks on at the Pittston Memorial Library on Saturday. Skopek-Krygier is president of Pleasure of Your Company Therapy Dogs, which runs a Furry Tails Reading Partners program at area libraries.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/web1_Furry-Tails-Reading-4-1.jpgAngie, a 9-year-old therapy dog, listens to Cecilia Coolbaugh, 7, of West Pittston, as Helene Skopek-Krygier looks on at the Pittston Memorial Library on Saturday. Skopek-Krygier is president of Pleasure of Your Company Therapy Dogs, which runs a Furry Tails Reading Partners program at area libraries. Tony Callaio | For Times Leader

Cecilia Coolbaugh, 7, of West Pittston, pets therapy dog Angie at the Pittston Memorial Library on Saturday during a Furry Tails Reading Partners event. Angie serves as the listener while younger children sharpen their reading skills.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/web1_Furry-Tails-Reading-5-1.jpgCecilia Coolbaugh, 7, of West Pittston, pets therapy dog Angie at the Pittston Memorial Library on Saturday during a Furry Tails Reading Partners event. Angie serves as the listener while younger children sharpen their reading skills. Tony Callaio | For Times Leader

By Marcella Kester

For Times Leader