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home : news : news July 21, 2017

3/16/2017 3:56:00 PM
Therapy dogs provide connection, redemption
This young reader at the Paws to Read opportunity at the Chisago Lakes Library had Scout’s ear the whole time.
This young reader at the Paws to Read opportunity at the Chisago Lakes Library had Scout’s ear the whole time.

Area resident Jeff Lavik and his therapy dog “Tank”
Area resident Jeff Lavik and his therapy dog “Tank”

Scout-the-dog was only too happy to lie on her blanket, in the sunny corner of the juvenile section of the Chisago Lakes Library,  Saturday morning, while youngsters eager to read books aloud to her, shared the blanket.  Kids seem to lose their inhibitions while reading to a canine companion and Scout sure is a good listener. At 11-years-old there is nothing about her that’s anything but smile inducing.

 And, perhaps Scout remembers that once her last reader finishes a book, she’ll be asked to show-off a couple of tricks and receive treats in exchange.  And, just maybe the mellow beagle enjoys listening to the hip-hop string of Dr. Seuss text being read aloud.

Scout, the therapy dog, belongs to Tanya Koester-Radmann.  Tanya explains that they have both come to look forward to volunteering and interacting with the community where they live.  

Scout has also helped readers at the local elementary school and they used to pick-up the spirits of residents when they toured at Parmly campus.

Koester-Radmann said requests for therapy dog services are limitless and she could put in 40 hours a week, if she didn’t also have a profession and a young family.
Koester-Radmann said one day it came to her that Scout might make a good therapy dog, so they took  training together (you earn a therapy license)   Now they mostly can be found at the library in Chisago City,  on “Paws To Read” days.  If you think your child reading aloud would improve his or her literacy,  just watch for a Paws To Read event date and time-- normally around 10 to noon,  and sign in at the library checkout desk.  Your child can take a turn reading a book you select.

And, then there’s Tank....

Tank is a chihuahua that will turn five years old in June.  

He had a miserable childhood, but is making up for all the early bad experiences with adoptive parent Jeff Lavik.

Tank splits his time between two owners,  Lavik in Lindstrom and Andrea, who lives in Oakdale.  They have shared custody upon the passing of a good friend who originally “rescued” Tank.

Lavik explains that Tank is a rehabilitated and redeemed dog since blossoming under decent human interaction and Tank has also transformed Lavik’s retirement days.

Lavik said he and Tank put in 1,200 hours in 2016, mostly visiting Parmly hospice clients and veterans but they also do Paws To Read programs. 

Lavik, 70,  is very active in local veterans’ organizations, and has always found ways to volunteer when it involves military honors, etc.
He says Tank is a “natural fit” with the Parmly crowd because he is so docile and sweet.  And at about five pounds, Tank is more like an animated toy with a personality, than a four-legged creature.
Says Lavik, “He is a once in a lifetime dog.  I realized he was too special to keep to myself,” he continued.  Lavik will tuck Tank inside of his coat front,  and he says Tank has fans everywhere around the Lakes Area. He’s even been weighed at the Post Office scale.  
“He spreads good cheer wherever he goes,” he concludes.

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