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Jangle, the library Lab who welcomes all

Conrad and Madaline Bellon pet Jangle after story time at the Silverdale Library. Jangle visits with children at various literacy events, including
Conrad and Madaline Bellon pet Jangle after story time at the Silverdale Library. Jangle visits with children at various literacy events, including 'Read to a Dog' and story time.
— image credit: Seraine Page

Jangle is a dog with one busy schedule.

Certain Saturdays are slated for library trips, where eager kids wait to read to her. On Wednesdays, she sometimes visits those in the Kitsap Housing Authority. Wherever she goes, she's ready to greet people with her wet nose and wagging tail.

The black Lab is a certified therapy dog who goes out and about with her owner, Greta Bergquist, to visit folks in the community who may need her loving talents.

Jangle, a happy dog with a sleek black coat and warm brown eyes, often has humans fall in love with her quickly, too.

"I needed a dog who loved everyone in the world," said Bergquist, the Silverdale branch children's librarian. "Turns out, here she is."

Up to ten times a month, Jangle interacts with the public as a therapy dog. She often encounters children who are scared of dogs, but soon turns them into animal lovers once they see her gentle nature.

Heather Bellon, mother of five, frequently brings her children to story time with Jangle. The event is a way for children who are fearful of dogs to sit in a safe setting at some distance. Afterwards, they are encouraged to come up and pet Jangle if they feel comfortable. Her children were all afraid of dogs at some point.

Now, that's no longer the case for the Bellon children.

"It's a safe environment and Jangle has so much training that it will be safe," said Bellon. "Six months ago if we were to walk in the park and the dog was on a leash, she (my daughter) freaked out."

That daughter, Madaline, 11, now happily interacts with Jangle after a reading session.

"She's really nice and friendly, but not too friendly," she said.

At the Silverdale Library, Jangle is one of several dogs that also participates in another event, Read to a Dog, a program meant to encourage youngsters to read unabashedly. On the third Saturday of every month, kids are invited to the event where they can sit and read with a dog from 2 to 3:30 p.m.

"I think that the best thing is kids have a safe space to practice reading," Bergquist said. "I couldn't of asked for a better dog for what we're doing here."

Kids of all ages sit on the floor, reading books to a dog to practice reading skills. Without the judgement that they might otherwise succumb to with peers, Bergquist has seen the program open children up to reading aloud. She's seen kids who hate reading fall in love with it because of the opportunities that Read to a Dog gives them, she said.

Handler Karen Donnick, a pet handler volunteer for Read to a Dog, has also seen the change in children. Donnick notes that Jangle's accepting, loving and affectionate ways are what make her so special.

"I have dropped by while there are programs in session to witness the bonding and giddy enjoyment that the children have with Greta and Jangle," said Donnick. "Jangle breaks the ice for very shy children and encourages all type of participation that would normally not happen if she wan't there."

If she wasn't so happy to meet everyone, Jangle would have been a guide dog. But, she got kicked out of the program for being too happy to greet humans, her owner said.

If only Jangle could talk, Bergquist suspects her thoughts would be streamlined: "Love me. Or, I love you."

Three weeks before she was to be matched with someone, Guide Dogs for the Blind decided that Jangle was too easily excitable. To ensure a blind person's safety, dogs must be focused, which Jangle wasn't.

Jangle's original owners, who are guide dog puppy raisers, decided they couldn't let Jangle's talents go to waste. So, the family friends agreed that Bergquist should take Jangle and use her training to benefit others. In 2012, the librarian adopted the lab from Lee and Michelle Woody.

"They wanted her to be in a home where she would be able to be both a beloved pet and also be able to continue working as long as possible," said Bergquist. "I was willing to take on the training tasks of getting Jangle officially certified and making sure she would have a place to work with kids. It does seem like such a perfect match, and I feel so lucky to be able to work with Jangle."

Bergquist kept her promise and enrolled Jangle in training with Pet Partners, an organization that screens both handler and animal for therapy certification. The duo practiced by taking a Canine Good Citizen class at Naturally4Paws, certifying Jangle as an AKC Canine Good Citizen along with the Pet Partners Therapy credentials.

"She loves the attention the children give her, forgiving and accepting even rough handling from small hands," Donnick said of Jangle. "Greta is an excellent handler, intuitive to what is necessary to help Jangle be comfortable in all interactions. Together they make all children feel valued, welcome and loved. It is truly delightful to see how the children warm to the attention of Jangle and Greta, and (it is) a pleasure to work with them."

 

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