"The dog is a gentleman; I hope to go to his heaven, not man's." – Mark Twain
Tucker, the gentle Welsh Springer Spaniel who started life as a neglected kennel dog and found a loving home with St. Pete Beach residents Kathleen and Jim Johnson, has died. He was 13.
Tucker played an active, integral role in the St. Pete Beach Library’s children’s program, once weekly showing up to allow young readers to practice reading by reading aloud to him. Tucker also worked as a therapy dog at the St. Petersburg Ronald McDonald House and other kids-based organizations. He began his literary career six years ago, when his human companion, Kathleen Johnson, asked the youth librarian Mary Jane Hyatt, if she’d be interested in allowing Tucker to volunteer as a reading therapy dog. He quickly charmed the children but also worked his way into the library staff’s hearts. When the library’s director Roberta Whipple died three years ago, Tucker attended the funeral.
Three years ago this past April, Tucker fathered five young, three of whom still live with the Johnson family.
“Tucker is an indispensable part of our library family history now,” Ms. Hyatt says “He mentored so many new readers, so many moments of delight, so much good in one furry, wiggly package. We were so very lucky that day in 2006 when Kathleen asked if I’d heard of Therapy Dogs; lucky to have known Tucker and his family.”
Tucker is survived by his litter of pups, including his three live-at-home sons Ranger, Skeeter, and Parker, as well as their mother, Paige, as well as by his human companions Kathleen and Jim.
To read the February 2012 Community Treasure about Tucker, please click here.