Thursday, November 23, 2017

The Dogs Who Listen to Children Reading

May 22, 2011 by  
Filed under Tale Waggers

By Michele Czaja
(An excerpt from Greyhound Friends For Life Spring 2011 Newsletter)

I recently got an email with this remarkable story about a Reading greyhound. This is a remarkable pet-assisted therapy that focuses on improving children’s reading skills. Patrick Barkham of The Guardian wrote about a program in the UK on February 28, 2011. 

“When children read to him, Danny does not criticize or correct their pronunciation. He just nods and pricks up an ear, although sometimes he closes his eyes and appears not to be listening.” 

Danny is a greyhound and a novel way of encouraging pupils at Oakhill primary school in Tamworth, Staffordshire, England to read aloud. A “listening dog”, he is part of a program that originated in the US called Reading Education Assistance Dogs (Read). 

“It helps with their self-esteem in reading out loud because he is non-judgmental,” says the dog’s owner, Tony Nevett, who has a degree in animal-assisted therapy. “He doesn’t judge them and he doesn’t laugh at them. He’s just a tool – the children don’t realize they are reading, which they might not have the confidence to do in class.” 

Some children even show Danny the pictures as they read. Danny received five months of training to become a Read dog. 

“Greyhounds are particularly well-suited because they do not bark and their short coat is less likely to trigger allergies,” says Bobbi Wolner, a GFFL volunteer and librarian, who had heard about this program in the Santa Cruz area. She researched and discovered that Reading Dogs need to start with the Good Citizen certification, followed by 4 to 6 months of specific training. “Volunteer dogs need to be calm, non-reactive, and very good with children,” she added. 

Unfortunately, her two greyhounds don’t have the appropriate temperament but she hopes that the next greyhound might “make the grade”.

If you are interested in pet-assisted therapy programs, Google “therapy dogs”, ”reading dogs”, or “library dogs” to learn more about programs in your area.

Comments are closed.