MIKE SPRINGER/Staff photo
Five-year-old Wylie Grandon shows Ivy, a Therapy Dog, the illustrations while reading a book to him Thursday in Tami Cronin's pre-kindergarten class at Eastern Point Day School in Gloucester. Known as "Awesome Ivy" by the people she meets on her rounds as a registered Therapy Dog, Ivy is an eight-year-old French Bulldog owned by Deborah Gilbert of Gloucester. Over the past six years, Ivy has served as Therapy Dog on a regular basis at Addison Gilbert Hospital in Gloucester and Brooksby Village senior center in Peabody, offering companionship and comfort to people with memory loss and other ailments. "When someone is in a hospital, nursing home, hospice or in a disaster," said Gilbert, "they are usually hurting, lonely or depressed. It is Ivy's duty to bring cheer, compassion, joy and a sense of familiarity." Sometimes, said Gilbert, the dog will bring a smile to someone who hasn't smiled in weeks, or speech to someone who hasn't spoken in months. At Eastern Point, the Therapy Dog is especially good with children who may have a learning problem or are shy, but all of the children love reading to the dog and react with excitement when she enters the room. "With all of the love she receives from the 18 children in the classroom, she still manages to give back so much more," said Cronin, who "interviewed" several dogs before choosing Ivy for her classroom. "We are incredibly lucky to have her, and we've all made a friend for life."