Jenny Hayes and her daughter Eleanor pose for a photo. (Photo: Sam Stroozas)

Evanston families and their dogs attended the K-9 Valentine’s Day event Saturday, Feb. 12, at the Robert Crown Community Center’s Branch Library. Kids could choose one from a selection of free books – topics included dogs, other animals and Valentine’s Day – while their dogs received milk bone treats in decorative bags.

Lilliana Lule and Robin Sindelar, branch assistants at the library, helped organize this first-time event. Lule said it seemed like library guests wanted more dog events. Therapy dogs were welcomed during the peak of the pandemic but since then K-9 friendly events have been scarce.

Sindelar said that a few weeks ago a person in the reading garden was throwing a ball to their dog and that’s when they got the idea for the event – a blend of books, dogs and the upcoming holiday.

There were different books based on age groups, but “Pig the Pug” stood out as an immediate favorite of guests.

Cindy Al-Jassar and her two grandchildren Amara and Max Warren were the first guests at 10 a.m. They also brought along their dog, Brownie, who endured the cold while shivering in Max’s arms.

Max holds down Brownie for a photo. (Photo: Sam Stroozas)

“We love the library and all of the activities they do,” Al-Jassar said, “and to include our dog is really special.”

Amara decided on “Pinkalicious, Happy Birthday!” as her pick, and with her pink mask, hat and shoes, she reassured this reporter that her favorite color, of course, was pink.

Allison Lavey came out with her son Zach and dog Cody.

“We are avid library fans,” she said. “I am a teacher, so I use the library all of the time. We come every Friday to get new books, it’s a tradition. We were so excited to see an opportunity to combine books and dogs, probably Zach and my top two interests.”

Lavey sat and read part of “Pig the Pug” to Zach before departing while Cody enjoyed his treats.

Eleanor poses for a close-up. (Photo: Sam Stroozas)

Jenny Hayes and her daughter Eleanor came bundled up with their dog Francis. Hayes lives in the neighborhood and says she loves how close the Robert Crown branch is to her.

“I love getting out in the winter, especially to go on a walk,” she said.

Not even one year old, Eleanor posed for photos like a pro before heading back home with Hayes with their pick, “Tummy Time Friends.”

Sam Stroozas is a reporter and the social media manager at the Evanston RoundTable. She covers small businesses, social justice and human interest stories. Contact her at and...