Library welcomes 'Clover,' therapy dog-in-residence

Roger Coda
therapy dog Clover with students

Meet Clover, a “paw”sitive addition to the Reed Library staff.

The staff of Daniel Reed Library is growing with the addition of 'Clover,' a certified trained therapy dog, who’ll be feted with a celebration – a birthday “Pawty” – with people treats (cupcakes), on Tuesday, May 10, beginning at 11 a.m.

Clover, who turns 1-year-old that day, belongs to Interim Director Kerrie Wilkes and her husband, Charlie, and is believed to be the first library therapy dog-in-residence in SUNY.

therapy dog with trainer and library director
Clover with trainer and Fredonia alumna Kaleigh Olson (left) and Interim Director of Reed Library Kerrie Wilkes.

“She’s a love; Clover likes to lean right into you and be petted. She’ll seek out students,” said Ms. Wilkes, who’s also Clover’s official handler. During three training/observation sessions at the library, Clover was a big hit with patrons. In fact, over 60 students petted Clover in just 45 minutes during one session, Wilkes recalled. “It was wonderful!”

The goal of launching a therapy dog in-residence program at the library is to help people feel comfortable, especially in light of the COVID pandemic now in its third year. “The library is a big space and can be intimidating. Clover is here to make people feel comfortable; she wants to help them be successful and less stressed,” Wilkes said.

“The library is a big space and can be intimidating. Clover is here to make people feel comfortable; she wants to help them be successful and less stressed.” - Reed Library Interim Director Kerrie Wilkes

“Clover is trained to greet students and staff and make them feel more comfortable,” Wilkes said. She doesn’t have an official work station, but will spend her assigned shifts walking around inside the library and interacting with interested patrons. Clover will be at the library two or three days each week, and those days will be posted at the library entrance and on Clover’s own website, so people not fond of dogs can plan their visits accordingly.

Wilkes adopted Clover, a Cavachon – which is part Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and part Bichon Frise – in July 2021. She got the idea to have Clover trained as a therapy dog from a neighbor, whose own dog had been trained as a therapy dog. The idea for a K-9 greeter at the library fetched an enthusiastic “paws up” from President Stephen H. Kolison Jr., Executive Vice President and Provost David Starrett and Vice Provost Judy Horowitz.

Clover has been trained by Kaleigh Olson, who earned a B.S. in Business Administration: Management in 2013 at SUNY Fredonia and operates Shayla’s K-9 Commands in Forestville. She trains pet obedience dogs, therapy dogs for schools and nursing homes, service dogs for disabled veterans and private clients, and works with K-9s for police departments and healthcare networks.

It is a true honor to have the privilege to work with Fredonia and train a therapy dog for the library to help students manage their stresses and anxieties, Ms. Olson said. She’s confident Clover will be a great asset to students and staff.


 

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