The Ottumwa Courier

Southeast Iowa

November 6, 2012

3-legged sheepdog inspires young readers

DALEVILLE, Ind. — Children in this homespun Indiana town have a rapt audience of one when they read their favorite book aloud at the local library every Tuesday.

Sitting at perky-eared attention on the rug in the children's section is Sebastian, a Shetland sheepdog who loves to be read to.

William Hensley, 7, selected "Clifford's First Valentine Day" to read to Sebastian recently, mainly because it is the tale of a puppy and he considers Sabastian "a special dog" who would enjoy the story.

And that he did. Sebastian listened intently to young William tell how the puppy Clifford falls into a chute at the post office, disappears into a mountain of mail and is rescued in time to celebrate Valentine's Day.

"Our children love to read to the dog," said Jessica Clidence, assistant librarian. "Sebastian is so wonderful to sit there and pay attention to what they are reading. It helps to build their confidence."

He also inspires them, she said, because Sebastian had one of his legs surgically removed after a car accident.

Steve Overmyer, Sebastian's owner, said he adopted the dog from a local animal shelter upon learning Sebastian was scheduled to be put to sleep.

Overmyer, a library patron, soon discovered Sebastian's joy of listening to children read to him. So he arranged for the weekly session at the library.

"One little boy came in with his mom and they sat on the floor together while he read," said Overmyer. "All of a sudden he realized Sebastian only had three legs. He turned to his mother and said that he wanted to bring his sister in to meet him. She was in a wheelchair."

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