Going to the Dogs

Generally, when people think of librarians, they think of cats! Lots and lots of cats. And it’s true, I am no different. My family has four cats at home and most of my librarian friends have cats a-plenty. Cats and reading, they go together like Baker & Taylor.

But today, I want to talk about dogs. On our staff, there are lots of dog lovers, from big dogs to small dogs; each one is treasured and many are rescued from the local humane society. We are a conscientious group.

In addition to owning and rescuing dogs, the next level of canine appreciation at the library is dog programs. We’ve had rescue dog programs, police dog programs, and obedience dog programs. (I confess, we have not had any cat programs whatsoever.) Most recently, we’ve had the Karma Dogs in residence. These are primarily rescued dogs who are trained to listen to children read. The kids take this quite seriously. One little girl was overheard asking if we thought her dog would enjoy “Green Eggs and Ham.” He did. Another little boy challenged the handler, saying the dog was asleep. But the boy was assured that the dog was concentrating. The reading continued. The Karma Dog experience also teaches children how to be safe with dogs, how to be good owners and how to socialize with their pets. Several of our librarians are getting their own dogs certified.

And yet, as much as we love dogs, the library still has rules about patrons coming in with dogs. Unless it’s a working dog or performing in a program, dogs simply aren’t allowed in the building, particularly free roaming or on a leash. (Disclaimer: we do tend to look the other way if the dogs are small enough to carry.)

Not long ago, a woman came into the branch with her medium-sized dog prancing along in front of her. As gently as possible, the librarian in charge explained that dogs are not allowed in the building.

The woman stopped short. “What? But you must let her in. It will mean so much to her. I promised her that she could visit the library today.”

Again, the librarian apologized, but insisted that the dog remain outside.

The woman stood for a long moment and contemplated her options. In the end, she looked at the librarian quite calmly and said, “But it’s her birthday.”

Apparently, birthday dogs should be given their heart’s desire and this one, in particular, was looking forward to her dog day afternoon in the stacks. Ah well. Some rules are made to be broken every once in awhile.



  1. Linda L Said:

    Dogs are occasionally among the visitors to Jarrettsville Branch – not as Karma-ic program participants but rather simply as visitors. Every so often an elderly Lab who lives nearby wanders in, and we quickly send her on her way back home. However, the two standard poodles, one black and one white, that showed up on March 3 were a surprise. Each had a collar but the telephone numbers on the tags were out of date. Thanks to Colleen and Morgan’s sleuthing and a couple of calls to local veterinarians, the lovely animals – new residents of Jarrettsville – were reunited with their family.

  2. Susan Said:

    My sweet little Abigail often came in with me when I had to check on things at the library. Back then, I received phone calls from the Havre de Grace Police Department whenever Aberdeen’s alarm was triggered, or the wind blew…
    She particularly liked the picture book area.

  3. Linda L Said:

    Max, my sweet almost-little guy, has been featured in a puppy love story time at my previous library. He also came in with me pretty regularly when I slipped in to get some work done on a Sunday (library open but office area really quiet!).

  4. SuzyV Said:

    I hope an pray everyday someone will walk in my branch with a dog,I would say a good bit of the patrons here get excited when a dog comes . Rick drops by with Meadow on his way home from HdG, and it is always a treat. I say let them in, especially on there birthday!! Halarious!!

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