Booker T Pug has two very important jobs.
The 3-year-old black pug is a therapy dog. He spends his days in the media center at South Salem Elementary School in Covington, Georgia, where his owner, Meghen Bassel, is the media specialist. One of his important roles is to listen as students read to him.
"Booker enjoys being around all people, but he is especially good with our students," Bassel tells MNN. "He is extremely tolerant and calm. When his reading club students come to visit him, he calmly lays down in the dog bed — oftentimes snoring loudly. When classes of students surround him, he stands or sits quietly and allows students to pet him and talk to him."
Booker also has another very impressive job. He competes in dog shows and will be competing in the prestigious Westminster Kennel Club dog show on Feb. 11. Bassel says that Booker has been quite successful in dog shows, quickly earning the necessary 15 points for his American Kennel Club show championship status.
A loyal fan base
While certainly all the dogs at Westminster have fans, Booker's might be the most loyal.
"I think the entire student body is his fan club," Bassel says. "When Booker walks to school from the parking lot or walks in the hallways there are constant exclamations of 'Booker! Look, it's Booker! For the Westminster Kennel Club dog show, we have even had classes make good luck posters to him."
The school superintendent, mayor, business owners and members of the fire and police department have all come to visit him and take photos with him, Bassel says.
Simply being himself
Booker enjoys life year-round, but some days are more exciting than others.
"Perhaps the most fun day of the year is Halloween. Booker always gets to wear a costume to school. Later that night, he goes trick-or-treating in the community. He sees many of his students during his time out. He meets parents and people in the community who follow him on Facebook. I would say that he is the most popular staff member in the building!"
Although Booker has two jobs, he doesn't see it as work, Bassel says.
"I am not sure Booker feels that coming to school each day is work. He loves coming to see people and interact with them. I feel he thinks of the media center as a second home to him. He is simply being himself wherever he goes. It comes easy to him!
He loves all people
Bassel says she knew the minute she met Booker that he would be the perfect therapy dog.
"He loves all people, is a very calm dog, and has tons of confidence," Bassel says. "Perhaps the biggest thing for him is that he is very tolerant. Booker works with students to improve their reading. He also works as a stress reliever and counseling tool. He is really a multipurpose therapy dog, and we are lucky to have him!"
Booker loves everyone, but he can sense how people feel. Bassel says he will often be drawn to students or staff members who are feeling sad or stressed. He seems to know when someone needs a little more support or time.
Other than having two very important jobs, Booker is a very normal dog.
"Booker is laid back and happy. His ideal day includes lots of treats, lots of naps, and plenty of snuggles with people. His favorite treat is chicken. He has his very own boy, my 7-year-old son. He is accustomed to activity and noises and attention."