The Van Wert County Courthouse

Tuesday, May. 24, 2022

Author, Yorkie, visit VWECC kindergarten

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

Kindergarten students in Sara Pugh’s class at Van Wert Early Childhood Center got the chance Thursday to meet someone they’ve only read about before: a diminutive Yorkshire terrier named Lola.

Author Marcia Goldman reads a book created by Sara Pugh’s kindergarten class at Van Wert Early Childhood Center, while her therapy dog, Lola, looks on. photos by Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent

The Yorkie is the subject of five books by California resident Marcia Goldman, who retired nearly a decade ago as a special education teacher.

Goldman, who does occasional school presentations and had previously had an email relationship with Pugh and her class prior to coming to Van Wert, said she was intrigued and pleased by the curriculum the local teacher had put together using her books.

“This is my dream; this is why I wrote the books; this is always been my hope,” Goldman said. “To see it happening was so exciting in the way she was doing it.”

After some writing back and forth, Goldman, who regularly visits her son and granddaughter in Oberlin, asked Pugh: “How would you like to have a Lola visit?”

Of course, the local teacher was quick to accept the offer.

Goldman said her journey as an author — although she said she still doesn’t think of herself as one — began after she retired as a teacher in the autism spectrum in 2010 following 35 years of service. After seeing how therapy dogs could help children with autism and other developmental challenges, Goldman said she looked into getting her Yorkie, Lola, certified as a therapy dog so she could bring her into the San Francisco area classrooms where she had formerly taught.

Although it was unusual for a dog as small as Lola (she only weighs 5 pounds) to be a therapy dog, Goldman persevered and Lola eventually became certified. With Lola’s interaction with autistic children a success, teachers in the school asked Goldman if she would include a story time presentation during her and Lola’s sessions with the children.

Lola poses with a cake created for her visit to the Early Childhood Center.

That’s when Goldman began looking for books that featured small dogs similar to Lola that she could use for story time — and pretty much struck out.

Lola interacts with students in Sara Pugh’s kindergarten class at the VWECC.

“I looked for anything that had a dog that was not gigantic and didn’t find anything,” Goldman said, while adding that she also couldn’t find any books with illustrations that would resonate with autistic children, who react best to seeing photographs.

So Goldman got her camera out, took photos of Lola, and began writing her own stories to tell the students. The first book Goldman wrote, Lola’s Teddy Bear, was about Lola’s real-life interaction with her favorite stuffed bear. Others followed, including Lola Goes to Work, which was about the plucky little Yorkie’s real-life challenges to become certified as a therapy dog — something usually reserved for larger dogs, such as Great Danes and Labrador retrievers.

Other books followed: Lola Goes to School, Lola and Tattletale Zeke, and Lola Goes to the Doctor. Each book deals with experiences children can identify with, while also including ways for children to cope with their challenges.

“They all have a message of empathy and being true to yourself and being brave — being brave is a big thing,” Goldman said.

During Goldman and Lola’s visit to VWECC, the author read her stories and a book created by Pugh’s class, and also autographed books, while she and her Yorkie also interacted with students. Students also got to feed Lola some doggie treats Goldman had brought with her.

Pugh and the students had some gifts for Lola and Goldman, including a sweater for Lola, a t-shirt for Goldman, and a cake version of Lola that was larger than the little Yorkie herself.

POSTED: 03/29/19 at 8:27 am. FILED UNDER: News