While thrilled from afar by exotic animals and chemical reactions, area children got an up-close look, and even gave a few commands, to the Brownwood Summer Reading program’s final guest of honor.
Killa, Brown County’s first certified therapy dog, dropped by the Adams Street Community Center, along with his trainer Donnetta Alexander, as the summer reading program’s final event before next Thursday’s summer reading program wrap up party.
“It’s important so kids can know exactly what the dog’s job is in the community and how it effects the community,” Alexander said.
Killa has been a registered therapy dog for five years and during that time became a regular fixture of the summer reading program while also visiting area nursing home and building relationships with many of their residents. Killa is unique because he is a pitbull-boxer mix. Alexander believes he is the perfect representative of his breed because he shows dogs take on traits from their owners and are not naturally violent due to their breed.
“Pitbulls are not all bad. It about how people train them and raise them up,” said Alexander, who also runs the Positive Paws Dog Training out of AgMart. “… It’s very important that they learn to respect the dog and know all dogs are not bad. Killa is a great ambassador of his breed. I could not be more proud of him. I’m a pitbull mom.”
Killa received his name because he was aggressive toward inanimate objects, prompting Alexander to say “You’re just a little killla.” When he began answering to Killa, she said the name just stuck. Alexander said Killa logged in 564 volunteer hours throughout 140 visits to area nursing homes.
“We’re part of Devine Canines, which is a non-profit organization,” Alexander said. “We go to Fort Hood and visit wounded soldiers. We visit lots of places in Austin because that is where our home office is. We’re kind of like a satellite. Everything we do in Austin, I try to bring to Brownwood. Brownwood did not even know what a therapy dog was until I introduced Killa.”
Alexander said she is trying to start a program using Killa to assist children with reading disabilities and eventually take him to visit patients at Brownwood Regional Medical Center as soon as she can iron out administrative details with hospital officials. She believes contact with dogs dramatically improves the mood of many patients.
“Our first visit was a nursing home,” Alexander said. “There was a gentlemen there who had no family and was so depressed he would bend a little bit in his wheel chair … I laid him down by the gentleman and he said ‘What is that dog’s name?’ I said ‘Killa.’ He said ‘Y’all lookout, Killa in the house!’ Every time we went back he was sitting up further and further in his wheel chair. That was the only thing he looked forward to, a visit from Killa. Even though there were other residents around, it didn’t matter to Killa. There was something about a bound he had with Killa. He died before we could have our Christmas party, but he did not die alone because every week he got a visit from Killa.”
Next Thursday the summer reading program wraps up with its July 19 Itunes and Tales event. Those who participated throughout the summer are encouraged to bring in their reading logs to collect their prizes.