MAHOMET — On a day almost too beautiful to not be outside, the children were scarce indoors at the Mahomet Public Library on Saturday, but the enthusiasm and anticipation weren’t.
A pair of therapy dogs stood by — at last getting one patron before they exited — to participate in “Read to a Dog” in the library’s Edgar Room. The certified therapy dogs were from the Champaign-Urbana Canine Connection, and they or other canines will visit the library on the second Saturday of each month to promote literacy.
Owner Chris Eliason of Champaign and poodle Macy attended. Macy has been a therapy dog about two months, and she enthusiastically greeted young Danny Morgan, 6, who read a book to her after reading to Willow, the other therapy dog present for the event.
Willow and her owner, Kylie Jackson of Mahomet, were ready for tales to be read to the redish-colored Willow. Jackson, now a sophomore at Mahomet-Seymour High School, picked out Willow specifically to be a therapy dog.
“In eighth grade, we had someone come to our school for career day, and they brought a therapy dog, and I knew that it was just something that I wanted to do,” Jackson said. “I had already been wanting to get a dog, and I just thought that would be the icing on the cake.
“So I convinced my parents to let me get a puppy to train to be a therapy dog, and we’ve been taking classes since she was 12 weeks old,” she added. Willow, a golden doodle labradoodle mix — known as a double doodle, of course — is now almost 11/2 years old.
Saturday was the first time the pair attended a Mahomet library event, but they’ve worked together in Urbana a few times.
“We got certified this summer,” Jackson said.
Willow and Jackson have been to nursing homes to cheer residents and to children’s camps to talk about therapy dogs. The pair also have been to a retreat for cancer patients to offer support and encouragement. They hope to do more soon, including working with children in schools such as in Mahomet, where Jackson’s mother teaches.
“We’re just getting started,” said Jackson, the daughter of Ryan and Heather Jackson.
Ryan Jackson said, “They’ve done excellent. You never quite know — when she asked to get a puppy and train her to be a therapy dog, you think, ‘Well, are we going to get the puppy and the training is going to go out the window?’ But her and her mom have really done a good job in taking (Willow) and got her all the classes she needed and the certifications and everything.
“Pretty proud of her,” he said of his 15-year-old daughter.