Reading with Rover

Submitted by the

San Juan Library.

Join Raquel Lackey on Monday, March 13, at 2 p.m. in the Library Meeting Room, as she shares her experience as a Reading with Rover volunteer and answers questions about this Washington-based pet therapy organization and how to get involved!

Reading with Rover started as a nonprofit of volunteers and trained canines who act as supportive listeners to help children boost their literacy skills and reading confidence. Since its inception as a community-supported literacy program, Reading with Rover has expanded to offer additional pet therapy services in a variety of settings, including hospitals, assisted living centers, hospices and more.

According to Lackey, who volunteers at the San Juan Island Library once a month, it didn’t take long for her three dogs to display an interest in helping people. “From the time they were very young, Pickles, Bungee, and Ruffles sought out attention,” said Lackey, a part-time San Juan Island resident since 2013. “With their calming demeanors, they would stay for hours if you read to them.”

It was that unique combination of friendliness and patience that helped Lackey realize that her pups might be a good fit for assisting people. She first certified Pickles, Bungee, and Ruffles with the Reading with Rover organization; they later completed advanced certification to become HOPE Animal-Assisted Crisis Response dogs.

Today, Lackey and her dogs volunteer with San Juan Fire and Rescue as HOPE responders in addition to meeting with children at the Library through Reading with Rover to promote literacy. “Did you know reading promotes curiosity, improves concentration, reduces stress, and makes happier people?” said Lackey, who is excited to invite others with dogs to become a local therapy team.

“Raquel and her canine companions are simply delightful,” said Melina Lagios, San Juan Island Library Youth Services Manager. “Reading is an essential skill that children

use for a lifetime. Learning to read fluently takes practice and patience. Pickles, Bungee, and Ruffles are perfect helpers. They don’t interrupt or try to correct the children. They simply listen and let young readers be in a non-judgmental and safe space to work on their reading proficiency.”

To learn more about the Reading with Rover program, visit The next Reading with Rover session at San Juan Island Library is scheduled for Monday, March 13 from 3-4 p.m., directly after Lackey’s Q and A, which starts at 2 p.m..

All San Juan Island Library programs are free to the public and can be viewed on the Library’s Event Calendar at