|Dogs help a young reader with a book|
in Hendersonville, North Carolina.
So we're always looking for employment opportunities for them. One good idea I've been seeing is therapy dogs are helping kids who are having trouble reading make progress in that department.
Think about it. Part of the problem with getting kids who are struggling to read is we make them try in front of people - classmates, teachers, parents, friends.
That makes struggling readers nervous. What if the audience laughs? Judges them? The nervousness this causes all but guarantees the kid trying to read won't do as well as if he or she were in calmer surroundings.
Enter therapy dogs.
Libraries like The Fletcher Library in Hendersonville, North Carolina have hired therapy dogs to help young readers hone their skills.
Says the Associated Press:
"Enter Springer, a 7-year old spitz mix who has worked at hospitals, colleges and high schools as a certified therapy dog, offering calming reassurance for students who are anxious about testing or medical procedures.
"When owner Rachelle Sher offered Springer's services to Fletcher's branch last October, Library Assistant Elizabeth Koontz jumped at the opportunity. Klontz knew that therapy dos help reluctant readers by providing a non-judgemental audience, as well as soothing stressed adults."
The kids read to dogs like Springer, who would never criticized a mispronounced word or a grammar error. They just sit there as a loving, eager audience, hanging on every word, mangled or not.
One eight year old named John Paul Torres read "Why Do Tigers Have Stripes" to Springer, who listened with rapt attention.
Again, from the AP via Blueridgenow.com:
"'I don't know, he's just a really fun dog to read to,' Torres said when asked about Springer's best qualities. 'Like, when I first saw his poster, I never thought that dogs could understand that much. And then when I started reading to him, that just surprised me.'"
The dogs help people who aren't young readers, too, said the library's branch manager, Cindy Fisher. "Adults who are trying to get jobs and they're using our computers to fill out resumes, they're so stressed out that it's just a nice change of pace for them," according to the AP article.
This idea of having dogs come in to libraries to help kids read is apparently spreading to lots of other libraries, which is a great trend.
It seems dogs do help you focus. Yes, the two that live with us, Jackson and Tonks, sometimes distract me when I'm working from home as they demand (nicely!) to go outside or play.
But just as often, while I'm typing away at my laptop, Jackson and Tonks will be curled up on the floor right near me, sometimes with Tonks resting her nose on my foot, and Jackson lying down on the floor next to my chair, his tail wagging when I turn to look at him.
This scene somehow focuses me, puts me in a better mood, and I find I'm getting work done, in part because they are there.
So yes, let's bring more dogs into libraries, and other work and learning places. At least the ones that aren't dangerous to dogs with wagging tails, or places that dogs might create dangers to them or humans.
When you treat them right, it seems dogs become very loyal, effective employees.