The seating was first-come first-served on Wednesday night and by by 5:30 p.m. 125 young readers and their families had spread blankets and towels across the lawn in anticipation of the arrival of the "mutts."
Arranged months in advance as a way to celebrate the conculsion of Brookfield Library's summer reading program, the visit from The Marvelous Mutts brought Smokey, Squirt, Bandit and Squeak — all rescue dogs from shelters or rescues in Missouri and Ohio — to Brookfield.
The owner of the talented canines, Kara Gilmore, explained that Smokey, Squirt, Bandit and Squeak are but four of her group of 12 dogs trained to entertain crowds. Gilmore is careful to explain that the dogs are all pets first, performers second, and that the dogs love what they do. The summer marks the mutts' busy season, and in the warm weather months the group travels to fairs and festivals — and many library shows.
The smallest of the four mutts, Squirt, who weighs just 17 lbs, has a unique story. Like the others she was a rescue, but according to Gilmore, Squirt was relinquished to a shelter as a puppy for one reason: she is deaf.
"The people thought that meant she wasn't trainable," said Gilmore. Squirt certainly proved that theory wrong. Apparently the secret to training Squirt was to find out what motivated her. "She has a high toy drive," said Gilmore with a smile.
Children and Dogs
An important component of Gilmore's show is educational. Through a question and answer session, she made sure the children understood the best way to approach a strange dog, the best way to deal with a loose, excited dog (make like a tree, branches folded to the side), and the ideal source of a family pet: the local shelter.
"We believe any dog can be an amazing dog. It does not depend on the breed. It does not depend on the age or size. I look for a dog that likes to play with people," said Gilmore. "If you go to a shelter, you can find a couch potato. You can find a runner. You can find a fetching dog. You can find a therapy dog. It all depends on what suits your lifestyle."
"We like to encourage fostering"
Gilmore explained that a great way to find the right dog and learn more about what's right for your family is to foster dogs looking for a permanent home.
Before heading home, all the children had a chance to meet one of the marvelous mutts, Bandit, who is also a therapy dog. The children lined up and took turns petting Bandit, acknowledging her super soft ears and enthusiasm for belly rubs.
Animal Welfare Society, Inc. (AWS)
Representatives from the Animal Welfare Society Michelle Scott and Karen Marrotte were on hand to receive the $1,100 check on behalf of their shelter. Located at 8 Dodd Road, AWS, which recently added an outdoor cat enclosure, was a fitting partner for the summer reading project.
AWS is currently planning its "Dog Days" event, scheduled for September 22 at the shelter. The event will feature kids' activities like face painting, vendors, as well s dogs and cats available for adoption. The shelter always welcomes in-kind donations like pet food, toys and treats, and according to Marrotte, the money boxes at retail establishments like Midway Deli help fund the good work of the shelter.
AWS urgent wish list includes in-kind donations. The shelter also appreciates volunteers to walk dogs, educate the public, socialize animals and help in the shelter.