CRESTVIEW — Northwood Arts and Sciences Academy students have a new reason to fill their reading logs.
Accomplished readers get to read to Dozer, a certified therapy dog who has become a local canine celebrity.
Dozer, a Great Dane, visited with the Cougars Thursday morning for three hours on the first of his monthly visits.
Students had been eagerly anticipating Dozer's visit to the newly reopened library, Northwood's media specialist, Kristal Petruzzi, said.
They make frequent visits to the library and complete book after book to fill their reading logs to earn a visit with the dog, she said.
Last week, second-grader Jonas Andrew knew why Dozer took a special interest in him right away.
I had waffles for breakfast," Jonas said. "I think he smells them on me."
Seth Smith, also a second-grader, was impressed that he and Dozer can see eye-to-eye.
"If he stands up on his (hind) legs, he'll be taller than a person," Seth said.
Reading to Dozer was fun for many reasons, particularly since the dog doesn't correct a mispronunciation; nor does he mind if the reader skips a hard word.
Plus, there's the slobber factor, second-grader Isabelle Cooper said.
"He's not one of those dogs that would come up licking your face," she said.
School visits were in the works for quite some time, the dog's owner said.
Angie Nousiainen said she had approached school officials several times to receive permission to bring Dozer into area schools.
Over the summer, Northwood's new principal, Dr. Donna Goode, met Dozer while he greeted Walgreens customers — another regular gig — and "she became an instant fan," Nousiainen said.
"When I contacted her and asked about bringing him to school, she was more than willing to go to bat before the school board," Nousiainen said.
Dozer has a been a regular at Crestview Public Library reading programs and visits residents in area rehabilitation and nursing facilities.
Nousiainen said she hopes to one day gain permission to let Dozer visit North Okaloosa Medical Center patients.
Contact News Bulletin Staff Writer Brian Hughes at 850-682-6524 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @cnbBrian.