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Hyde Park Therapy Dog Wins Nationwide Books, Barks Contest

Syndey, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel therapy dog from Hyde Park, has won the third annual Books & Barks Contest by Pets Best Insurance Services.
Syndey, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel therapy dog from Hyde Park, has won the third annual Books & Barks Contest by Pets Best Insurance Services. Photo Credit: BestPets/Facebook

HYDE PARK, N.Y. -- Sydney, an 8-year-old female Cavalier King Charles spaniel therapy dog from Hyde Park, has won the third annual Books & Barks Contest held by Pets Best Insurance Services.

Sydney, owned by Chris Grimaldi, regularly visits students at St. Martin de Porres School in Poughkeepsie and won the national contest with 2,866 votes.

Created in 2014, the Books & Barks Contest recognizes and brings awareness to the work of therapy dogs in classrooms and libraries across the nation. As the winner, the school will receive $1,000, and his owner will receive $500 to donate to the charity of his choice. Grimaldi chose the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Rescue Trust.

“Pets Best is pleased that our 2016 contest received such an enthusiastic response from the public, and it was our closest contest yet, with only 32 votes separating the winner and runner-up,” said Chris L. Middleton, president of Pets Best. “We recognize that therapy dogs play a significant role in the classroom, and it’s wonderful to see students get excited about reading – thanks to these amazing dogs.”

“I am thrilled that Sydney won because it brings awareness to therapy dogs and the wonderful work they do, whether it is volunteering with children in a school, or in a nursing home like I do with Sydney’s older brother, Oliver,” said Grimaldi. “Many people are unaware of therapy dogs and the good that they do for the community, and I hope this contest shines a light on therapy dogs, their handlers, and their accomplishments.”

According to second-grade teacher Kim Papineau, Grimaldi always goes the extra mile with her warm and happy demeanor for her students. Sydney, who loves showing up to school in stylish outfits, is a “poster dog.” She is an affectionate, sweet, and loving reading buddy.

“Sydney has truly helped build the confidence of those reluctant and emergent readers with her calm demeanor and her constant tail wag,” said Papineau. “It’s especially wonderful to see their hands go up and be excited about an opportunity to read when that task isn’t necessarily easy or enjoyed by them.”

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