Therapy Dogs come in many shapes, sizes, and categories. We have all seen the trusted seeing eye dog, guiding his or her human through a maze of oncoming traffic. We have witnessed the joy a therapy dog brings to our elders at a nursing home, bringing with it love and compassion. We have watch viral videos of autistic children finding comfort and support by just being near a therapy dog. Therapy dogs are truly amazing, they ask for little but give so much.
Read also: “Cherished Therapy Dog Needs Therapy Too“
And now we have found one more job for dogs to fill, reading assistant. Yes, it turns out the dogs are good listeners and enjoy a great book. And for children that have the fear of reading in groups or classes, they offer the chance to build up the confidence it takes to read to others. Most of us take for granted the ability to read to others, but for many children there is an extreme anxiety associated with public reading. Some fear humiliation and shy away from the practice, which in turn hurts the development of their education.
Reading programs across the country are taking note and incorporating our furry friends to help children build up the confidence it takes to become a confident reader. The program is quite simple really, all it takes is a book, a therapy dog and the child that just wants to read to someone and not feel judged. And thats secret to the program, the dogs do not judge the child, they do not snicker when the child fumbles over a word, they do not make fun of the child if they must start the sentence over, they simply offer a lovable sounding board that encourages the child to read outloud.
Therapy dog reading programs are popping up in libraries across the country. “Hundreds of children have come through to read with our dogs,” said North Carolina’s Independence Regional Library Children’s Service Specialist Cindy Rhodes. “It’s just a fantastic program and so enriching for these children.”
And its changing the lives of young girls and boys who are plagued with the fear of reading in public. “It has become a place where children can read in a non-stressful, non-threatening environment,” Rhodes said. “The program really does help these children who feel self-conscious reading aloud in the classroom and they feel they might get ridiculed by other students or maybe their teacher. This is an opportunity for them to come and read to someone, or something, that’s not going to judge them, how they’re reading, messing up words… just that they’re enjoying what they’re reading.”
Programs like these just go to show how important therapy dogs are in society and how crucial it is for us the protect the concept of therapy dogs. Of late we have seen an increase in fraudulent uses of service and therapy dogs in society. We have witnessed the rise of corruption in the industry and society is starting to doubt the need for service and therapy dogs. But, for every fraud there is a story like this, dogs helping and assisting mankind and in return we love them more for it.