FHS provides therapy dogs for kids to read to. (photo submitted)
FHS provides therapy dogs for kids to read to. (photo submitted)

FHS leads ‘Reading to a Dog’

Published 9:36am Monday, April 8, 2013

Foothills Humane Society (FHS) recently began an after school reading program called “Reading to a Dog” at Sunny View Elementary School.

These students are in kindergarten through the fifth grade. The main objective of this voluntary program is to provide a relaxed, dog friendly atmosphere for students to practice reading aloud. Beginning readers are often self-conscious about reading in front of others. By sitting down next to a dog, the child is not worried about being judged and can relax while patting their attentive reading buddy. Reading improves because the child is practicing the skill of reading, building self-esteem and associating reading with something pleasant.

Harriet Spencer, a FHS volunteer, takes her therapy dog, Ellie, to the school for reading time. Ellie was a FHS shelter puppy that is now almost 3 years old. She is a shepherd/chow/golden mix and received her therapy dog certification in 2012.

“The children get 10 to 20 minutes with Ellie and me. They are encouraged to touch Ellie while reading,” Spencer said. “They are very excited about the opportunity to read out loud and to have the comfort of Ellie nearby. The response has been overwhelming.”

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