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Dog looking for kids to read to him goes viral

John Muellner's greyhound, Sting, looked lonely when no kids came to read with him at the library. So Muellner shared the photos on Facebook. And boy, did Sting's schedule fill up fast.
Sting the therapy dog didn't have anyone to read to him. That sure changed fast. (Photo courtesy: John Muellner Facebook page)

WHITE BEAR LAKE, Minn. - A lonely looking greyhound is getting a whole lot of love from around the country, after a viral Facebook post from his owner.

Sting and his human, John Muellner, have been participating in the White Bear Lake library's "Paws to Read" program for a few years. The program allows kids ages 5-8 to come in and read to a therapy dog.

"We want it to be a fun, safe environment where kids get to sign up and read to a dog in a really nonthreatening, nonjudgmental place for kids to really work on their literacy skills," says White Bear Lake Children's Librarian Ann Wahlstrom.

But on Wednesday when the retired greyhound racer came in for his session, no one had signed up to read to him. So Muellner posted a few photos of the mournful-looking pooch on Facebook.

"Unfortunately nobody signed up to read to Sting at the White Bear Lake library tonight," he wrote. "If you know of a 4 to 8yr old who would like to read to a dog. Please contact the White Bear Lake library."

On Thursday, one of his friends convinced him to make the post public.

"So he took those pictures and put it up and I was on my way to work Friday morning and another librarian was like, 'Oh my gosh, have you seen this?'" said Wahlstrom.

Muellner's post was going viral. From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. that day, Wahlstrom said they were slammed with phone calls from across the country.

As of Saturday afternoon, Muellner's post had more than 85,000 shares.

"Sting is booked through April," she said. "We even added a couple nights."

But that's not all. Wahlstrom said several callers have just wanted to check on Sting.

"We’ve had people calling and wanting to know that he’s OK," she said. "We’ve had multiple calls of people who just want us to hold the phone up to Sting’s ear so they can read to him."

Sting's forlorn look, Muellner said, was a bit misinterpreted.

"People who don’t know Sting don’t know that that’s his normal look," he said. "He isn’t sad or lonely but that’s just the look he normally has."

Muellner said he's been getting requests from people in New Zealand, Argentina and Ireland to video chat with Sting. He's also received around 1,500 friend requests - none of which he has accepted.

Sting doesn't seem to know he's suddenly the center of so much attention.

"He’s pretty blasé about it," Muellner said. "Very unflappable."

Although Sting is booked up for a couple of months, Ramsey County libraries have several other therapy dogs for the program - and they're seeing increased interest as well.

Wahlstrom said other library systems also have similar programs. Anyone interested in reading to a dog should contact their local library.

"We’re just so touched that people are taking time out of their schedule and loving Sting and giving us a call and checking in," Wahlstrom said. "We’re just overwhelmed with love."

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