Sting – the latest addition to the list of famous dogs of social media – has gone viral within the span of just a week. But wait till you hear the reason behind his fame, as it is both heartbreaking, and heartwarming at the same time.
The 10-year-old greyhound was making one of his regular visits to the Ramsey County Library in White Bear Lake, MN, where the retired racing dog visits twice a month as a part of the Paws to Read program – an initiative that encourages young kids to come in and read to dogs.
Sting has been participating in the program for the last two years, as TODAY reported, but sadly – things didn't go as planned in his latest session. "Unfortunately nobody signed up to read to Sting at the White Bear Lake library tonight," Sting's owner, John Muellner, posted on Facebook last week.
The post came with a few very sad, lonely looking shots of Sting, where Muellner added, "If you know of a 4 to 8yr old who would like to read to a dog. Please contact the White Bear Lake library by phone or their website about the Paws to Read program Sting will be there Feb 21st 6:30 - 7:30."
And as it turns out – the internet wasted no time to get down to business.
Did everyone see that Facebook post about no kids signing up to read to Sting the therapy dog? I saw it at 4am and it honestly nearly broke me— let me fat in peace (@catherinebouris) February 14, 2018
i am not 4-8 yrs old but i will purchase a plane ticket to minnesota immediately if nobody else shows up to read to the dog. sting i'm coming buddy— ray g. ? 17 days ? (@sevenpom) February 10, 2018
Soon there were plenty of bookings pouring in from not just four to eight-year-olds, but from adults too, keeping the library's phone ringing off the hook!
"People are asking if we could hold the phone to Sting's ear so they could read to him," Ann Wahlstrom, children's librarian at the Ramsey County Library, told TODAY. "The whole staff of a Petco in California called to say they love Sting. It's just amazing, the outpouring."
"[Sting] is booked through April," Wahlstrom added, before going on to express her thrill at how other dogs are getting more response via this viral post. "It's meant to be a fun environment," she added. "To give kids a fun, non-threatening place where they can practice their reading skills to a dog."
Other libraries have also reported their dogs being more in demand than ever since this post gained viral attention. "We love promoting the joy of reading," Wahlstrom said. "The joy of reading to dogs."
As for Sting though, his sessions last up to an hour, with each kid reading to him for 20 minutes. His owner, Muellner, 56, describes him as an "easygoing" pup who's the best as a therapy dog – and Sting is involved in a therapy program at a local children's hospital too!
"Nothing scares him; nothing bothers him," he said. "Not even squirrels." But what broke and won over the hearts of Netizen was Sting's saddened, lonely expression.
About that Muellner assured TODAY that Sting wasn't really that affected or upset that no one came to his reading hour. It's just how his face is. "It's his signature look," he said. "It's just his look."