SYCAMORE – Brothers Bennett Leigh, 7, and Jacob Leigh, 10, of Sycamore, love dogs, but they have two cats at home.
On Sunday, Jan. 5, they were two of the 10 children who attended Husky Howlidays at Raven’s Husky Haven and Rescue, 27779 Five Points Road in Sycamore. The children registered for a 15-minute time slot to practice reading aloud to a husky.
The free program was offered on three dates through a partnership between the rescue and the Sycamore Public Library.
Lisel Ulaszek, the library’s youth and teen services manager, said the idea for the event came from the Books and Barks program conducted from 6 to 7 p.m. Wednesdays at the library, 103 E. State St. in Sycamore.
During Books and Barks, children register for a 10-minute time slot to read to dogs that are certified therapy dogs or have passed the American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizen test.
During Husky Howlidays, about 20 children total read to nine adoptable huskies during the three-day program.
“Our main goal is dog enrichment, not adoption,” said Kristen Janowsky, kennel manager. “It’s hard to know who enjoys it more, the kids or the dogs.”
Ann Bartosz, a volunteer at the shelter, said she could see a change in the dogs when the children were reading to them.
“The dogs were calm and mesmerized by the kids reading,” Bartosz said. “Percy fell asleep and Nala, who is usually more energetic, laid down and paid attention, looking as she was read to.”
Linnea Olsen, 8, of Glen Ellyn was excited to read to huskies after watching the movies “Balto” and “Togo,” about sled dogs.
“Huskies are probably her favorite animal,” dad Robert Olsen said. “She’s always been a big reader and she loves to draw.”
Calvin Ebert, 8, of Sycamore read “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” by J.K. Rowling to huskies Nala and Kohvu, and his 6-year-old sister, Corinne, read “A Friend for Dragon” by Dav Pilkey to Percy.
“Corinne loves dogs, all dogs, and Calvin received the whole set of Harry Potter books for Christmas,” mom Jessica Ebert said. “[The program] is just one more way for them to practice their reading skills and what better way than by reading to shelter dogs?”
For information about Raven’s Husky Haven and Rescue, or to donate or to adopt, visit www.ravenshuskyhavenandrescue.org.