"A tiny change today brings us to a
dramatically different tomorrow."
~ Richard Bach
All-Around READing Dogs
Iowa ~ "Toby," "Tinker," & "Teddy"  

Siamese cat listening to a story.

Children love holding Tinker
and listening to him purr.

Tinker is a beautiful cat of uncertain heritage but very much resembling a chocolate lynx point Siamese. He showed up at Lyn’s house a few years ago sunning himself on the patio table. He literally staked his claim to their deck, and to their hearts.  He shared his affection with the whole family, including all the other animals, and so they fed him, bathed him, and named him “Tinker,” because it seemed he had shown up on their doorstep like an Irish gypsy. He, too, is now earning his keep as a Pet Partner.

American shorthair cat curled up with a book.

Teddy knows what it means to
"Curl up with a good book."

Teddy (Bear), so named by Lyn’s children because he is soft and cuddly like a stuffed toy, was adopted from Jasper County Animal Rescue League. Lyn knew he was born for therapy work when he began to purr as soon as she picked him up. He also loved Toby, so everyone knew he would fit right in with their therapy family. He is registered with R.E.A.D. and is a Pet Partner. With his plush white fur and loving personality, Teddy wins hearts and tummy rubs wherever he goes.

Shetland  sheep dog in training to be a therapy dog.

Trooper, therapy dog in training.

The newest addition to the family is Trooper, a Sheltie puppy adopted from Sheltie Shack in Kansas. He is already becoming a bit of a celebrity in his own right, having received a treat from Governor Huckabee's daughter and had a photo op with radio and talk show host Sean Hannity at the Iowa Straw Poll event in August.

A bit older here, Trooper is also wiser:
he knows which hand holds the treat!

This newer picture of Trooper shows he is still in training to be a calm therapy dog. Here he is interacting with an employee at Lyn's husband's business. Lyn volunteers there with Toby and Trooper, and it is good exposure for Trooper while relieving some of the stress the employees feel when trying to meet an important deadline.

Click here to check out Lyn’s blog, Plush Paws Animal Therapy Teams, and follow along as she chronicles the latest adventures of this amazing therapy family.

Books about Shetland Sheepdogs include:

Curio, a Shetland Sheepdog Meets the Cat, by Jeanette A. Griver
Little Skiff's Moving Adventures, by Danny Pierard-Deviche
The Best Parade Day: Spatz, by Sherry Fair

Books about cats include:
How to Talk to Your Cat, by Jean Craighead George
Skippyjon Jones, by Judy Schachner (there are many in this series)


(Click on the titles above for a brief description and convenient ordering information.)

In June 2011, Lyn and her three R.E.A.D.® partners completed their first day of “Pawed Pages,” a 6-week program she organized for Mitchellville Public Library and, the following week, at Colfax Library. Although active with animals her whole life and in pet therapy visits for some time, the concept of R.E.A.D. was new to her. Once Pet Partner training was available, they completed the evaluations and became registered Delta Society Pet Partners.® and then an official R.E.A.D. team. They are the first animal therapy team in her area and Lyn is very excited to talk to people, answer questions, and spread the word about Reading Education Assistance Dogs … and cats!

Shetland sheepdog ready to read with children.

Ready for the next reader,
Toby is eager to get started.

Toby, her Shetland Sheepdog, had been working in the same elementary school with one student for a year, even before his official therapy registration. He is quite well known in the hallways there, by teachers and children alike. As Lyn says, “It always seems to go when you have a working dog, everyone knows Toby, and I'm just the gal at the other end of the leash. That's fine with me--he's the one doing all the work!”

This Shetland sheepdog is a therapy dog that helps children practice reading.

Toby is patient and attentive
to young and old alike.

Toby has a lovely, calm spirit, which is perfect whether he listens to students with learning disabilities read or joins preschool children during story hour at the library. Typical of a companionable Sheltie’s nature to obey willingly and with few lessons needed, Toby is well behaved on and off lead. Shelties have lots of energy, and Toby is no exception. A tireless worker, he also visits a nursing and rehabilitation center monthly, bringing an afternoon’s happiness to the residents; helps patients with physical and recreational therapy in the Des Moines Veterans Administration Hospital; and visits the hospice wing of Skiff Hospital. In his spare time, Toby walked in several parades and even performed in Newton Theatre’s production of Annie.

In January 2016, at the age of 10 and after several years of therapy service, Toby has retired. His buddies Tinker and Teddy have also resigned from their library duties; however, young Trooper is now learning more about proper library behavior and Lyn plans to let him follow in his family's pawprints as a R.E.A.D. volunteer.