Brinkley is a black-and-white Portuguese Water Dog (PWD), the breed (and same color) chosen by President and Mrs. Obama for their family soon after they moved into the White House in 2009. PWDs have been prized for centuries as loyal companions and workers. With a waterproof coat and an energetic nature, this is a breed that was originally used to swim and dive for hours, putting in a full day’s work in or out of the water helping fishermen by herding schools of fish, carrying messages, retrieving broken nets, and serving as an alert guard.
Brinkley checks out a book
for the next reader.
True to his breed, Brinkley puts in a full day’s work--and in not one but two states. When he was just a one and a half years old, he became a Reading Education Assistance Dog® (R.E.A.D.) team member with his owner, Gwen. They read with children at two elementary schools in Southern California from November to the first of May and also have an ongoing assignment with the Palos Verdes Library District when the children’s librarian can organize it, usually in the spring. Then each year the family moves to Oregon, where Brinkley reads with children from May through October at Elk Meadow Elementary School and the Lunch and Learn program in Bend, Oregon.
Brinkley, ready for whatever is next.
A prime example of a Portuguese Water Dog, Brinkley has been written about in a magazine, appeared on television, and has been a representative at the Pet Expo and Meet the Breeds at the Eukanuba Dog Show in Long Beach, California. Gwen and Brinkley work with Pet Partner affiliates Compassionate Canines of Central Oregon, and Paws4Healing in Southern California.
In addition to reading with children, Brinkley goes with Gwen every week to the St. Charles Hospital where he visits hospital patients, therapy patients, and children waiting for their loved ones to have surgery. Brinkley loves children and seems to think his job is fun as well as important.
Portrait of a very proud pair
when Catie earned her
Pet Partner-Complex rating.
In November, the family returns to California for the winter, where Catie will begin reading with children again at the Manhattan Beach Elementary School and at the libraries.
Brinkley has a special way
of comforting his buddies.
Brinkley has learned to sit quietly while someone shows him a book. He will paw the book when asked, as a way of holding a page or pointing to a special word or picture. Gwen made a special dog blanket out of fleece—white with black dog prints—just big enough for Brinkley and the child reading to him to sit on. Some children hug him while reading, some pat him, and some sit next to him.