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Natick - Local Town Pages

Lorcan At The Library

By Susan Manning
Staff writer
Books and dogs: What could be better?
For kids, not much.
This combination is a success with patrons of the Bacon Free Library.
Kids and adults alike have enjoyed Lorcan the therapy dog visits for a few years now. Although the Covid pandemic put the brakes on some of the programming, Lorcan is now back and ready to read!
Owner Cheryl Malone, a Newton resident and herself a published children’s book author, said they love coming to the library.
“Lorcan and I did a summer program at the library before Covid, where kids read directly to him. I think [he was] called a non-judgmental listener. Typically Lorcan hangs out with the kids while the librarian reads,” she said.
 Malone, who worked as a professional dog trainer at All About My Dog from 2016 to 2020, said Lorcan was certified as a therapy dog in 2018. “We’ve been visiting nursing homes, care centers, and libraries ever since. Right now, our only engagement is with,” the Bacon Free Library, she explained. 
Lorcan is a 10-year-old Irish wheaten terrier that Malone brought home from County Cork, Ireland. she said his name is Gaelic, and means little fierce one. 
“But he is a total love,” said the author.
Library Assistant Karen Kassel said Lorcan is a hit with the kids.
“He and Cheryl have worked with us for several years in a few ways:
Dog tales story time: This is the program it is offering the first Monday of each month at 10am. This is a somewhat traditional story time, with the dog present. The librarian reads dog-related stories. Before and between stories, Cheryl will talk with the kids about Lorcan, about therapy dogs, and also general info on how to safely approach a dog, pet a dog, etc. She encourages the kids to come to Lorcan to pet him, and will also walk him around to different family groups so that everyone who wants to pet him can have an opportunity. This is also a great experience for kids who are a bit intimidated by dogs because they can watch him from afar. There is no pressure to greet the dog if someone isn’t comfortable.
Doggie Love on the Lawn: The library offered this program last summer (2021), and hopes to do it again because it was very popular. It had several therapy dogs and their owners outside on the library lawn. People could go around and meet the dogs, pet them, learn about them, learn about therapy dogs, etc. This was a little trickier to schedule so staff wasn’t  able to do it this summer, but plan to do it again in the future.  
Read to a Dog: It used to offer this program once per month, but had to stop once the pandemic began. Kassel hopes to offer it again. This is the program where kids sign up for a private 20-minute session to read to the dog. 
“This is great for new readers, readers who need to build their confidence, reluctant readers, or just kids who love dogs. The steady presence of the dog is very calming for kids as they practice reading,” she said.  
Lorcan will be at the Bacon Free Library again on Monday, Oct. 3, at 10 AM, outside behind the library, for Special Dog Tails Monday Story Time. There will be some dog-approved stories read, and a chance to pet this calm, sweet, and soft therapy dog