Meet R.E.A.D. & Therapy Golden Retriever Jake


I just love this photo of 5-year-old Mary Schiavo reading to 4-year-old Jake, taken by The Boston Globe’s Patricia McDonnell.

The interview went well and they shook hands. With that, the deal was sealed, and now, several months later, both parties – Canton Public Library director Mark Lague and Jake, a nearly 4-year-old golden retriever – seem happy with the results. …

Five-year-old Mary Schiavo came well armed with a stuffed Snoopy under one arm, a book under the other, and half a dog biscuit in her hand (her own chocolate Lab got the other half). She was the first in line and Jake greeted her with a wagging tail.

As Mary, the daughter of Jay and Christine Schiavo of Canton, read “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt” with a variety of dramatic voices, Jake’s tongue occasionally lolled out of this mouth. As she stopped at the end of each page to show Jake the pictures, he reached out his nose to sniff her pink clogs.

Jake’s owner, Canton Police Officer Kenny Drinan, first saw a “Read to a Dog” program when he took his sons Christopher and Michael to the library in their town, Mansfield. A golden retriever named Abbey and her owner, Mary O’Brien, have occasionally been featured there, said Mansfield children’s librarian Kitty Schacht.

Meet R.E.A.D. Golden Retriever Cody

In the above photo by Randy Metcalf I think Cody is getting tuckered out sitting and listening to all the readers. But, he is doing a wonderful job as you can see in all of the wonderful photos taken by Mr. Metcalf.


Barbara Herrington began a Read program at her neighborhood library in September with Cody and he listens to readers every week for an hour. You can learn more about his work here.


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Golden Retriever Guide Dog Avery, R.E.A.D. Golden King & more…

Nice to see some good ‘Golden’ news.

First, I can well imagine the happiness and relief that Golden Woody’s parents had after he was winched to safety by a team of coastguards.



This is Golden Guide Dog Avery. Click here to see a video about why he is such a special gift.



This handsome guy is King and boy is he enjoying David reading to him. Click here to learn more about how a schoo’s special education department has happily gone to the dogs.

Golden Retriever READ Dog Bosun

Students’ literacy skills improve thanks to Reading Fur Fun
By Jim McGaw, East Bay Newspapers

EAST BAY – Jacob Unger would read to his three cats if only he could get their attention. “One cat’s a scaredy-cat and another one’s a mean cat and the other one got hurt in a fight with the scaredy-cat,” explains the first-grader at Bristol’s Guiteras Elementary School last week.

But Jacob loves sharing a good book with Bosun, a 9-year-old golden retriever owned by Pam Kirk of Portsmouth. He greets his shaggy friend with a smile and a quick belly rub, then picks out a book, “A Polar Bear Can Swim,” before plopping down on a beanbag chair.

Jacob, however, will have to wait, for Bosun’s in an excitable mood this morning. He’s got his leash in his mouth, his tail is wagging furiously and he moves quickly to greet any visitor who enters the room. Finally, his master cajoles her over to Jacob with a little gentle force and some tried-and-true bribery — a bone-shaped biscuit.

Bosun lies down next to Jacob, who then regales the dog with a litany of facts about polar bears and other animals and insects. “Honey bees can make honey, but a honey bee can’t make milk,” reads Jacob, as Bosun sits up and pants.

Bosun provides Jacob an attentive audience, which is the whole point of the Reading Fur Fun program run by the Potter League of Animals, with help from local volunteers. Modeled after a program that originated in Utah, it was designed to help “reluctant readers” who aren’t always comfortable reading in front of a group of people. At the same time, these children and their classmates learn about respect and safety procedures around animals.

There’s lots more . . . .

Therapy Golden Retriever Dixie working her magic


Canine counselors find role at school
Administrators sold on benefits


BRYAN – Across northwest Ohio, some schools are going to the dogs. Canine counselors – Allie in Bryan, Magic in Tiffin, and Dixie in Findlay – work each school day with students and staff, and as their success stories spread, more schools across northwest Ohio sign up for therapy dogs.

Allie, a golden retriever with a heart of gold, could easily be called the leader of the pack. The award-winning, professionally trained therapy dog was a Christmas gift to the Bryan Middle School student body in December, 2004, and since then people have been sitting up and taking notice of her work with students.

There’s more . . . .

Golden Retriever Derek is a Reading Partner


First-grader Brice Salinas, 7, reads to golden retriever Derek as owner Angela Kubasa helps him along at Matilda Harris Elementary School in Kingsland, where Derek is a reading therapy dog for kids. Kubasa brings Derek twice a week to the school to help kids gain confidence by having them read books to the dog one-on-one. CHRIS VIOLA/The Times-Union

Dog helps Kingsland readers relax, build their confidence
The golden retriever and his owner listen while students work through books.

By GORDON JACKSON, The Times-Union

KINGSLAND – Once a week, Brice Salinas reads aloud to a new friend who will never have the ability to understand more than a few words he says.

Despite the communication barrier, Brice, 7, says he is the envy of his first-grade classmates at Matilda Harris Elementary School in Kingsland when he reads to his friend Derek – an 8-year-old golden retriever.

Brice and Derek meet in a virtually empty classroom containing nothing but a box of books, two brightly colored bean bag chairs and a thick pillow on the floor. The session begins after Brice thumbs through a box of books for an appropriate selection and takes a seat in one of the chairs next to Derek’s owner, Angela Kubasa.

As Brice begins reading aloud, Derek snuggles against his leg, looking intently as if he understands what is being said. About halfway through the first book, Kubasa corrects Brice when he mispronounces a word and encourages him to read “loud and proud.”

There’s more . . . .

Service Golden Retriever Ivan’s Training: Accentuating the positive


This GReat photo from John T. Greilick, of The Detroit News, shows Maltby Middle School guidance counselor Dian Kolis with her Assistance Golden, Ivan. He is aptly demonstrating his recovery skills as he picks up sixth-grader Joey Vollmer’s wallet.

Check out the following news article and then Dian’s own essay to learn how truly special this partnership is between Dian Kolis and her “Walk/Brace” Assistance Golden Ivan. I further learned that this very astute Golden boy wears a harness to help Dian balance and navigate stairs, as well as help her sit and stand. He is also trained to step on her foot should she “freeze” in a Parkinson’s stall. Further, Ivan retrieves the telephone, picks up dropped items, and helps Dian up from a fall. I also visited PAWs with a Cause, the wonderful Assistance Dog group that had trained this team and learned so much more. I hope you read through the following pieces so that as Paul Harvey says . . . . “now you know the rest of the story.”

Students reading to help sponsor assistance dog
By Lisa Carolin, Ann Arbor News Staff Reporter

A school counselor and her trusty golden retriever have inspired students at Maltby Middle School to read for 20 minutes a day for the entire month of March, which is National Reading Month.

Maltby Counselor Dian Kolis returned to Maltby after a five-year absence because she was suffering from Parkinson’s Disease. Thanks to donations from three schools in Oakland County with the help of the United Way, Kolis was able to afford Ivan, a PAWS With A Cause Dog, who has literally given her the strength to return to her job.

“It’s because of Ivan that I could return to work and because of him that I am ambulatory,” says Kolis. “My coworkers had the idea to pay it forward, and we want to sponsor a PAWS With A Cause assistance dog for someone else in Livingston County.”

Students at Maltby are collecting pledges for minutes read during march that will go to funding a PAWS dog for someone in the county.

“The response has been overwhelming,” says Kolis. “Our students are learning about philanthropy, feeling good about helping someone else.”


Below you will find . . . the rest of the story. It is fascinating to learn that Ivan has saved his partner’s life and alerted to cardiac arrhythmias. Just as interesting, though, is how their partnership was for a time threatened, yet managed to mature into something extraordinary.

By Dian Kolis, PAWS Client

Illness changes a life in an instant. One day I was too busy to stop and smell the roses and, seemingly, the next day I wished I were able to go outside, bend down and smell the delicate fragrance of a rose. I went from being the center of a whirlwind of busy activity to being quietly homebound.

Days might pass before I would leave the house I realized that I had not gone to the store alone in a year. I didn’t go outside to enjoy a sunny warm day. (The last time I was outside, alone, I fell and tore cartilage in my knee.) My days were not filled with creative time with art or needlework. (The hands can’t manipulate those scissors or hold the paintbrush or needle quite right.) Even cooking could be dangerous. (cuts from a slipped grip, oven burns from a trembling hand, falls from bending down to pick up dropped objects.)

Yes, life had changed. Each day brought challenges, loneliness, frustration and tiredness from meeting obstacles. And, when I received the call from Paws With A Cause that there was a possible match of an Assistance Dog who could meet my needs, I did not understand how dramatically my life was to change but again.

August 19, 2003 Ivan came to live with me as my helper. Our Paws With A Cause Field Instructors, Lori Grigg and Helen Dinsmore, had their hands full when they took on Ivan and me. My dog handling experience was very limited and Parkinson’s disease had left me with precarious balance, a slow odd walk, and pronounced muscle weakness. Ivan, on the other hand, was a big, strong, quick, hairy, eager and exuberant nineteen-month-old Golden Retriever. I felt overwhelmed.

Lori and Helen invested countless hours each week teaching Ivan and I to work together as a team. We learned that Ivan and I have many similar personality characteristics. We are both very sensitive to others and get our feelings hurt easily. We share a love of humor and like to play. Ivan quickly learned to slow down and approach his tasks with gentleness and patience. And I learned that lots of praise and a pocket full of treats would get you far in the dog world. But we were both unsure of ourselves and tentative

About seven months into our training we hit a big rough spot in the road. Ivan became less confident and felt overwhelmed by his job’s high level of responsibility. And, I felt that I could not trust him l00%. It was, wisely, suggested that perhaps Ivan should go back to the training center for a “career change.” Ivan and I both were devastated. We might have hit a rough spot in the training road but one thing was still solid: we had come to love and depend on each other. We were not willing to give up on our partnership. Ivan was eager to be my helper; he just needed help in learning how to approach his job with confidence.

With the help and wisdom of Lynn Hoekstra, PAWS SE Michigan Regional Director, Ivan and I began a new training regimen that focused on praise and basic obedience skills. Ivan’s harness was changed from the traditional variety to one that was less restrictive. We worked slowly and patiently through the spring and summer, training several times each week using lots of treats and a clicker to help Ivan understand when he was doing things “right.” Because Ivan responded so positively to praise, we acknowledged all of his positive skills and built on previous successes. Ivan quickly learned what behaviors we valued and, he was eager to please us with those behaviors.

Ivan relaxed and became more in tune to me. I relaxed and began to increasingly trust him. We both became much more confidant. We trusted ourselves and we trusted each other. Amazing things began to happen. As my brain cued into the rhythm of Ivan’s walk, my gait began to normalize. When I stumbled, Ivan kept me afoot. He began alerting me before the symptoms of cardiac angina occurred and awoke me at night when I had cardiac arrhythmia. And, Ivan began to ‘think for himself” and “problem solve.” Even though he had not been trained to do so, Ivan blocked my steps so that we did not walk into the path of a car whose driver did not see us. He saved us both from being hit by that car. We began working together as a team.

Yes, we are a team. We look out for each other. I watch that he doesn’t eat milk carton caps or earrings; he keeps me from falling. With Ivan, my family can relax a bit and let him take over “watching Mom”. We go to the store alone, take classes, visit relatives. As a team with Ivan, I can go and do just about whatever I want to do. Ivan and I visit schools as a part of the Paws-To-Read program and were speakers for the United Way annual drive this fall.

Ivan is an integral part of our family. My well-being is confidently placed in his care, and I know that he will never let me down. Thanks to Helen, and Lori and Lynn and the entire Paws With A Cause organization, I have been able to leave that homebound, fearful lifestyle behind me and re-enter the world as a person who has something to give others.

With Ivan I can, not only, smell the roses. I imagine he and I could even plant a few.

Reading with Golden Retriever Roby Program


Canine coaxes kids to read at school – Dog’s magic related to a lack of intimidation
By Sharon Wernlund, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

For 3 1/2 years, a golden retriever named Roby did her best to make life a little easier for Amy Yeater’s husband, Jeff, as muscular dystrophy gradually robbed him of his independence.

The Stuart couple adopted the 58-pound pooch in October 2000 from Canine Assistants, a nonprofit organization in Alpharetta, Ga., that raises and trains service dogs to help people with physical disabilities or other special needs.

At 17 months, Roby could flip on a light switch, retrieve a fallen pen and even open the refrigerator with a hard tug on the bandana tied on the door’s handle. She was also her master’s legs, pulling his manual wheelchair wherever he wanted to go.

In April 2004, when Amy Yeater mourned her husband’s death, Roby mourned, too. “She was lost without him,” recalls Yeater, an educational consultant in Palm City for Bessey Creek Elementary’s special education students. “She was so used to being out every day and performing a function. Suddenly she had no purpose.”

Wondering what to do, Yeater spent her summer vacation in search of answers. By fall, the gentle canine had a new role as her partner in education in the school-based Reading with Roby program. Since August 2004, Roby’s been a faithful friend and reading companion for students of all ages at Bessey Creek, in both the regular and special education classrooms.


She mainly serves students in kindergarten and the first and second grades who either are just learning to read or need a little extra help with their early literacy skills. Every Thursday and Friday, the dog is escorted to seven classrooms from 8 a.m. to noon for 30-minute sessions in which five or six students, identified by their teachers, read one-on-one with her. And when someone stumbles on a word or a passage in a book, either Yeater or her volunteer is there to speak for Roby.

“I hear back from teachers that the best way to get better at reading is to practice,” says Yeater, 38, of Stuart. “This is a non-intimidating way to practice reading, and it gives Roby a purpose.”

There’s much more . . .

Golden Joshua Immortalized

Reading dogs immortalized
Artist’s mural depicts Joshua, Brandy, Peppy, who help kids conquer fears

By Ashley Cox, The Times and Photo, Robin Michener Nathan, The Times

Cleveland Veterinary Hospital staff members, from left, Melissa Dowdy and Jackie Benjamin, client Joyce Alves, and staff members Toni Spink, Tara Berghoefer and Debbie Sayne watch Tuesday as Gale Hinton paints a mural that includes their past and present dogs.

Furry friend. Faithful companion. Reading buddy? Dogs long have been hailed as man’s best friend, but three certified therapy dogs from North Georgia are more than that.

Joshua, Brandy and Peppy serve as loving, uncritical listeners for children who practice their reading skills by reading aloud to the dogs. These star reading dogs are part of Read Aloud Chattanooga, a regional nonprofit devoted to getting more children to experience the educational benefits of reading aloud.

One of the organization’s key strategies is increasing childrens’ motivation to read from an early age. “You can make the biggest difference between birth and age 4 or 5,” founder Bill Thurman said.

On Monday and Tuesday, an admiring crowd gathered in the office of White County veterinarian Roy Brogdon Jr. to watch Gale Hinton paint a mural depicting reading dogs.

Read Aloud chose Brogdon’s office for the mural to thank him for taking good care of Josh, Brandy and Peppy and because many people will see it. “We want it to mean something to Dr. Brogdon’s patients and customers,” Thurman said. Hinton, an artist from Knoxville, Tenn., has painted some 50 murals for the organization since its creation in March 2002.

There’s more . . . .

Lending a TRIO of Golden Ears

reads.jpgLending a listening ear – Kids tell stories to dogs at Bloomfield Twp. library
By Ester Allweiss Ingber, Free Press Special Writer

Children taking a Paws to Read at the Bloomfield Township Public Library couldn’t have asked for a better audience than Karly, Kristy and Katie, a trio of huggable golden retrievers. Lounging on blankets and quilts, the dogs surely appreciated every word read to them.

These pets of Debbie Kroger, 50, of Orchard Lake are therapy dogs, certified by Therapy Dogs International. Therapy Dogs tests and registers animals and their handlers, all volunteers, so they can visit nursing homes, hospitals, schools and other institutions.

“Michigan Humane Society offered classes to help us pass” the certification, said Kroger. Assisting her on Dec. 29 — their third visit to the library program — were handlers Gail Copeland, 52, and Keri Adams, 48, both of Orchard Lake. “The volunteers relate well to the children to make this a special experience,” said youth services librarian Susie Barr, who greeted the 20 registered readers.

For their 10-minute session with a dog, most children chose picture books from a cart of canine-themed titles. “We have a couple of funny ones with jokes,” Barr suggested to one boy. “The dogs might like that.”


John Secrest, 6, a kindergartner from Bloomfield Township, happily read his own book he brought from home, “Big and Little.” “Good work, John,” said his father, Paul Secrest, who listened along with Kristy the dog. “John’s reading has progressed since the beginning of the year,” Secrest said. “He recognizes words. He has a good memory.”

Barr said the dogs help inspire children just learning to read. “This is a reinforcing program for new readers,” Barr said.

Katie wagged her tail while Spencer Morris, 9, of Bloomfield Hills read “The Howling Dog.” “I think she liked this story,” said Copeland. Spencer beamed.

There’s more . . .

Golden Bay is Improving Reading Skills


Therapy dogs help kids read
By Jeanne Millsap, Special to The Herald News

For years, therapy dogs have been used in hospitals and nursing homes to boost the spirits of those who are ill or lonely and in need of a cuddly pet that offers a wagging tail and unconditional love. And now, at Laraway School in Joliet, a teacher’s therapy dog is being used to help students who are having trouble learning to read. The international program is called R.E.A.D., or Reading Education Assistance Dogs, and its mission is to improve the literacy skills of children by using registered pet-partner therapy teams.

The program has been around about seven years, the brainstorm of a nurse who had seen the effects of therapy dogs on her hospital patients.

Joan O’Connell, technology coordinator and teacher at Laraway, says her 4-year-old golden retriever, Bailey, or Bay, is ready to help the children of her school with some of their reading problems. The program was approved by school administrators just recently. “Bailey always seems to put a smile on everybody’s face,” O’Connell said. “He has a lot of personality. He even likes to hug people. He loves to let kids read to him. He sits and stays and listens to them read.”

Bailey is a trained therapy and R.E.A.D. dog. O’Connell said she knew when she first saw Bailey as a puppy that he was special. He loves people, she said, and always seems to know just the right way to interact with them.

When she first got him, she taught him a few tricks, then soon decided he was so special that he ought to be shared with others. She and Bailey have visited nursing homes and hospitals, but, as a teacher, O’Connell soon realized the potential her dog had to help struggling students. “I really feel he’s a gift from G-d, and I’m the lucky one that got him,” O’Connell said. “I pray every day: what am I supposed to do with him?”

The idea behind the program is to take a handful of children who are having trouble reading and give them a dog partner to read to during their sessions with a school reading specialist.

Positive results
According to Intermountain Therapy Animals, a not-for-profit organization that works to bring animals to human needs, the hundreds of registered R.E.A.D. teams throughout the United States and Canada have helped school children read better, speak better, raise their self-esteem, display more positive social behaviors, and even come to school more often.

What reading-therapy dogs like Bailey do is to sit with a particular child who is having trouble reading for about 30 minutes a day. The child and dog spread out on big pillows on the floor and get comfortable. The first few minutes are usually spent getting acquainted, then the child reads a book to the dog. The end of the session includes time for tricks and treats and a little bit of play.

The reading specialist can chip in with questions like, “Bailey has never heard that word before, Brian, can you tell him what it means?” Some dogs are even trained to turn pages with their paws or noses. The child can also pet the dog during the reading time.

There’s more . . . .

Golden Mix Torris is “Cool”


Puppies love story time, too – Therapy dog opens up timid young readers
By Marci Elliott, Tallahassee Democrat Staff Writer

Up until a few weeks ago, Christian Thompson was one of those kids who was too bashful to read out loud. It was just something he didn’t want to do. Not any more.

Christian, 8, a third-grader at Florida Sate University School, doesn’t hesitate to grab a book and start reading – yes, out loud. One recent morning he read “Green Eggs and Ham” by Dr. Seuss. Christian, like the half-dozen or so other formerly timid readers in teacher Margie Gibbons’ reading class at the school, had a little help from a friend named Torris, a furry pal with big brown eyes, a wet nose, fluffy ears and a wagging tail.

Torris, 2, part golden retriever and part yellow Labrador retriever, is a highly trained, remarkably well-behaved working dog “educated” through Canine Companions for Independence. Torris is called a “facility dog” and can do much more than help children learn to read: He’s trained to help in peer mediation, grief situations, relaxation, behavior modification, individual and group counseling, crisis-team management and – no surprise here – public relations.

“I like Torris. He’s cool,” Christian said.


Golden Brandy is Quite the Listener

Golden Brandy listens attentively to students reading.
Click on the photo to see it in its supersized version!

to see a cool video of Golden Brandy on the job!

Four-legged tutors make reading fun for children
By Heidi Robinson, United Methodist Communications

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (UMNS) — Two four-legged reading coaches bring something special to an after-school tutoring program at First Centenary United Methodist Church in Chattanooga. Sixty children read out loud to two trained therapy dogs as part of a partnership between the church and Read Aloud Chattanooga, an effort to engage children in a life-long love of reading.

“Reading affects everything, math, science,” says Karen Fletcher, director of Inner City Ministry, an outreach program in this downtown church. “When the children here improve their reading, we see grades go up. And, everyone loves reading to these dogs. Many of the children in our program have never had a dog, so it adds interest which makes the reading even more special.” All the children in the after-school program are considered “at-risk” either because of low test scores or home situations. But the church sees these children as future bookworms, and the dogs are part of that transformation.

Beverly Trobaugh, an early childhood educator at the church and liaison between the programs, explains, “When you are reading to a dog, you are reading to someone who is totally accepting, and non-judgmental. If a reader struggles, or stumbles that dog will just sit there, and smile. It is an encouraging listener who will not correct, just cuddle. So reading becomes something that makes you feel good.”

On a recent afternoon, anticipation builds in the reading room. “After you’ve selected your story, have a seat in the circle so we can read and wait for the dogs,” says Fletcher.

In the church parking lot, a van door slides open. Brandy, a golden-retriever, sedately steps from the van, while Peppy, an aptly-named terrier-mix, hops out and heads for the door. Both dogs started as therapy dogs, but received additional training that allows them to work with children. As the dogs make their way down the hall they receive a hero’s welcome.

“Ooh, the dogs are here!” squeals a middle-school girl. “It just makes it so exciting to read to the dogs.”


The Furriest Listeners

The furriest listeners: Kids enhance their reading skills, thanks to volunteer dogs at the library
By Ronnie Lynn, The Salt Lake Tribune


Lexie Goins doesn’t bother reading to her own dog, Gizmo. The so-called Chihuahua – which weighs about 30 pounds – won’t sit still long enough for Lexie to make it through a book.

So most Saturdays, the 11-year-old Murray girl and her dad drive to the Salt Lake City Main Library, where a therapy dog sits quietly and listens as children of all ages take turns reading to him.


“It’s so fun to read to them,” Lexie said Saturday. “They listen to me more than people and my dog usually do.” That’s why they’re there.

The library began offering the Reading Education Assistance Dogs (R.E.A.D.) program in 1999 to encourage kids to practice their reading in a nonthreatening setting. Something about reading to a dog makes children – especially those with little confidence in their skills – more comfortable, said Donna Olsen, whose golden retriever, Lucky, heard several recitations on a recent Saturday of Spot on the Farm, Clifford Opposites and Pancakes for Supper.

Library staffers endorse the program, too.”Kids watch for the dogs,” said Helen Taylor, an associate librarian. “They wait for the dogs. It’s just a difference experience to read with a dog, a good experience.” All of the dogs are Intermountain Therapy Animals, which means they are obedient, mild mannered and approved to provide “animal assisted” therapy in all kinds of settings, including hospitals, mental institutions and schools.


At the library, the dogs are kid magnets. Lucky never was alone. Some children gave him quick pats as they passed by. Others, including Carla Flores, 8, lingered by his side for more than an hour.


Reading Golden Colonel

Reading goes to the dogs – Furry good listener can boost students’ self-confidence
By Jennifer Toomer-Cook and Tiffany Erickson, Deseret Morning News

MURRAY — Colonel marches into Longview Elementary, offers a toothy smile and handshake to a stranger, and leaps into his chair, ready for work. In his clutch, however, is one strange briefcase: A chew toy.As states across the country work to build children’s literacy skills, some Utah schools are throwing reading to the dogs. Man’s best friend is working in a handful of schools and several public libraries to help readers improve, boost their self-esteem, instill a love for the written word — or just have fun. These certified Reading Education Assistance Dogs, or READ dogs for short, seem to have an innate ability to fetch children’s interest in the written word when no one else can, just by sitting at their side — or, in Colonel’s case, plopping smack in the middle of their laps — and listening to a story.

“It’s a magical phenomenon we don’t really understand,” Kathy Klotz, executive director of Intermountain Therapy Animals, said of the dogs’ effect on the human psyche. “(But the dogs) help turn something that’s fearful into something (kids) look forward to. If they have all these happy memories related to books, they’re more likely to want to read in the future. It sounds simple, but it’s powerful stuff.”

Intermountain Therapy Animals is a Holladay non-profit whose trained animals interact with humans in hospitals, mental institutions, nursing facilities and other settings. The contact relaxes humans, lowers their blood pressure and helps them forget about pain and limitations, the group reports. The group set up the READ program in 1999 at the suggestion of registered nurse and board member Sandi Martin, who wondered if such benefits would extend to a reading setting. After all, said Klotz, “a lot of reading problems aren’t about intellectual ability. They’re about fear, shyness and embarrassment.”

Reading skills have taken center stage under state and federal programs to hold schools accountable for student achievement. Statewide testing shows one in five Utah first- through third-graders read below grade level. The READ program, adopted by Longview Elementary in Murray, Bennion Elementary in Salt Lake City, Holt Elementary in Clearfield and a handful of Park City schools, aims to nip the problem in the bud by addressing kids’ self-esteem. It appears to be working.


Golden Harvey, the Reading Dog

Fresh out of school, Wytopitlock teacher loves her job
By Ruth-Ellen Cohen, Bangor Daily News

WYTOPITLOCK – All 10 pupils at Wytopitlock Elementary School were hard at work last Friday morning, including Harvey the reading dog.Lying in a corner of the classroom, his head between his paws, the friendly golden retriever was being read a book about animals by Sierra Waite.

“Harvey, look!” the 10-year-old said, pointing to the illustrations.

The dog is brought to school each day by Kelly O’Mara, the school’s only teacher, who constantly is on the look out for ways to keep her pupils – five sets of siblings in kindergarten through grade five – excited about learning.

“It takes a lot of energy and creativity,” O’Mara, a 2006 graduate of the University of Maine, said.


Reading to Christa

Students look forward to days with dog
Taking care of Christa helps Smoky Row children focus on tasks
By Robert Annis,

CARMEL — Students at Smoky Row Elementary are finding Christa, a 2-year-old Labrador and golden-retriever mix and certified companion animal, hard to resist. They often flock to her side to run their fingers through her silky blonde hair. “I’m finding it takes a long time to get anywhere (in the school),” said Christa’s handler Anne Grubbs, a resource teacher.Grubbs and school principal Kelly Davis had been trying to start a companion animal program at Smoky Row. They learned their application to Canine Companions for Independence had been approved right before school started. Grubbs trained with Christa for a week in Ohio, and she takes the dog home with her when school is not in session.

Christa already has made a noticeable impact on several students, she said. Christa’s presence is a motivator for kids who are reluctant to try new things and helps calm kids who are easily frustrated,” Grubbs said. “Rewarding kids (by giving them jobs) with Christa is a motivator for them to maintain socially acceptable behavior.