WHITE BEAR LAKE, Minn. – “For the love of dog, will someone please read to Sting?”
That was the plea from thousands of people across the world after the 10-year-old therapy dog showed up for story time at the Ramsey County library in White Bear Lake – and nobody showed up to read to him.
Cue the sad puppy eyes.
For the past two years, Sting has been listening to kids read to him as part of the Paws to Read program. After nobody showed up, Sting’s owner, John Muellner, posted photos of the forlorn greyhound on his Facebook page.
“Unfortunately nobody signed up to read to Sting at the White Bear Lake library tonight,” the post read. “If you know of a 4- to 8-year old who would like to read to a dog, please contact the White Bear Lake library by phone or their website about the Paws to Read program.”
The post has been shared nearly 100,000 times and within hours of Sting’s lonely visit to the library, his reading schedule was full through April (other Ramsey County library locations have openings).
Thanks to Sting’s 15 minutes of social media fame, the Paws to Read program and others like it across the state and country are getting a boost in interest, said the library’s children’s librarian, Ann Wahlstrom. The literacy program gives young readers an opportunity to practice reading in a nonthreatening, nonjudgmental, fun environment.
“Our phone has been ringing off the hook,” Wahlstrom said. “It’s the makings of an adorable children’s book.”
Callers have offered to drive across the country to read to Sting. Others pleaded with the librarians to hold the phone to Sting’s ear so they can tell him a story. Some offered to adopt the dog.
Sting, in fact, is not in need of a home. The 70-pound greyhound, a former racing dog who retired seven years ago, lives with Muellner in Hugo and volunteers throughout the Twin Cities as a certified therapy dog.
In addition to his time at the library, Sting also travels to local hospitals to provide comfort to patients.
“He is the best companion,” Muellner said. “He just wants to be wherever I am.”
Muellner said this library visit was the duo’s first time back at the library since Muellner lost his other dog, Colin, also an adopted greyhound, in December. Although Colin wasn’t a certified therapy dog, he enjoyed spending time at the library, too.
Muellner said of the recent visit: “If anyone was a little down, it was probably me.”