Libraries are supposed to be quiet places, but when there's a dog on site for kids to read to, you'd expect a little noise.
Except that on Feb. 7, not a single kid signed up to read to Sting, a therapy greyhound. And it made Sting very, very sad.
Sting participates in the Paws to Read program at the Ramsey County Library in White Bear Lake, Minnesota. The program helps kids overcome their fear of reading out loud, or just get better at it, by reading to a therapy dog for 20 minutes. Sting's human companion, John Muellner, posted this image, and a few more, on Facebook when no one signed up to read to Sting that night.
"It's meant to be a fun environment," Ann Wahlstrom, the children's librarian, told Today, "to give kids a fun, nonthreatening place where they can practice their reading skills to a dog."
But things just weren't very fun for Sting.
After Muellner posted the photos, things perked up for Sting. The photos went viral and suddenly people all over the country — all over the world — were calling the library to ask if they could read to Sting over the phone. Others wanted to Skype in from places like New Zealand and Argentina. Others just wanted to make sure Sting was OK.
"It's been insane," Muellner told the Dodo. "I guess these days nothing surprises me with the internet. But the amount, and with responses worldwide, is a bit astounding."
Sting is a 10-year-old greyhound who retired from racing seven years ago. He is now a certified therapy dog and visits the library twice a month for Paws to Read nights.
At least that was his old schedule. After the photos gained so much attention, Sting is booked for reading sessions through April. The library even added a couple of nights to meet the demand.
If you're thinking this would bring a doggy smile to Sting's face, think again. But as Muellner explained to Today, he doesn't see Sting's visage as sad or depressed.
"It's his signature look," he said. "It's just his look."
Well, at least some kids will be smiling when they come to read to Sting in the next few months.