Therapy Dog Reading Program at the Library
6/5/20: Due to Corvid19 complicating everyone’s lives, it took us four months to put together GloryToo’s first book, written for children to read during our Reading Dog sessions at an elementary school. But we did it, and we’re proud of it. So many people have been excited about the project and, when they saw the first draft said they wanted one for their child or grandchild or students, that we worked very hard to produce a high quality book. See details. I am SO excited to make this announcement!
In December, 2014, I was contacted by our local library to set up a program there where children read to therapy dogs. This is a first in our area, although nationally it is a very popular program that has had major success in helping children who were struggling to learn to read. Reading to a non-judgmental dog has helped many kids gain confidence and learn to enjoy reading. We did a little research and came up with a plan we liked. We then did practice sessions with two of my therapy dogs, Chaos & Berakah, and children of library staff members. Some of these photos are from those sessions. They were taken by cell phones through windows so the quality isn’t great. Unfortunately, library staff members never seemed to take photos when the kids were using the dogs as pillows or were petting them. Chaos & Berakah did weekly sessions with about 6 children during December while I certified other therapy dog teams. The official program began in January 2015. GloryToo began doing visits as soon as she was certified at a little over a year old. Besides my three dogs, we have a 2.5# Chihuahua, a Standard Poodle, and a Doberman participating. The last photo is of my twenty-month-old Cantor in December 2017, doing his supervised visit as part of becoming certified as a therapy dog.
We finally got another tester/observer here so I was able to certify GloryToo as a therapy dog. We did a practice session with her, too, using the T/o’s granddaughter and her best friend. Normally only one child reads to the dog at a time but these two are inseparable and wanted to do it together. They decided to take turns reading. We had a terrible time getting the girls to pay attention to the dogs we were practicing with. GloryToo took matters into her own hands when she was ignored. She assumed her Irresistible Pose and waited. No reaction. She began slithering around, on her back, assuming positions wrapped around each girl looking lovingly into their eyes, begging to be petted. At one point she actually fell off the step, still upside down on her back, in her efforts to be noticed. We were laughing so hard the girls finally noticed her and gave her some attention.
Gee, Mom, do therapy dogs always have to work this hard????
Currently, we do Reading Dog at Tongue River Elementary School in Ranchester, WY, and Tongue River High School in Dayton, WY. See the kids reading to my dogs on February 24, 2020: Berakah and Lovely.