In the eyes of much of the world, it might have looked as if Faolin the Scottish terrier wasn’t doing very much.
Some might have even accused him of loafing, adrift in doggy daydreams while the little boy sitting on the floor of the Centre County Library read passages from “The Little Rabbit” with a labored intensity most people reserve for The New York Times Magazine.
The fair-minded can rest assured that underneath Faolin’s relaxed composure he was actually working his little fanny off, similar to the way that you can never catch a Zen master breaking a sweat.
“Scotties are not known for being outgoing, calm or friendly. He’s the exception,” Cheryl Fugate, the terrier’s owner/handler, said.
Sometimes struggling readers have negative associations with books and reading.
Laura Sarge, children’s librarian at Centre County Library
He’s also the cornerstone of the library’s own take on Tail Waggin’ Tutors, a Therapy Dogs International program that helps kids develop their reading skills with the perk of a furry little ringer in the audience.
“Sometimes struggling readers have negative associations with books and reading,” said Laura Sarge, a children’s librarian at CCL.
The hope is that the dogs will serve as a distraction from the stress of reading and not from the actual reading itself. To that end, all of the participating pooches have to come certified with the right stuff.
Luckily for Faolin, he knew somebody who knew somebody at the library. Fugate has been a volunteer there for the past three years and her love of dogs was well documented.
She has four Scottish terriers, but only one that stood a chance at passing the tests necessary to become a certified therapy dog.
That’s why he’s so special. He actually listens.
Beyond the basics — sit, stay, come — Faolin had to prove that he could ignore any food that was dropped on the ground or watch people leave the room without getting excited.
“That’s why he’s so special. He actually listens,” Fugate said.
Listening is actually the giant Milk Bone at the end of this reading rainbow.
Dallas Flick, the 7-year-old from Pleasant Gap Elementary who lent his voice to “The Little Rabbit,” grew more confident with every page he turned. Whether any of this can be attributed to Faolin, who sat patiently at the boy’s feet, is tough to say — but then again, adults have a tendency to complicate things.
Dallas knew exactly why he wanted to read at the library that day.
“Uh ... It’s a dog,” Dallas said.
Set up a session with Faolin
When: 3:30-5 p.m. Tuesdays (20-minute appointments)
Where: Centre County Library, 200 Allegheny St., Bellefonte
Info: 355-1516 or visit the library to register