Health Alert: "Reading" dogs - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Health Alert: "Reading" dogs

NATIONAL (NBC) - When it comes to getting kids to enjoy reading we've got a "tail" of a school with a doggone great concept! 

They say every dog has its day, and for Tess the dog, that's is reading day at school!

"She sees the collar and leash, and she knows it's the day," said Reading Dog volunteer Bonnie Smith.
  
Tess is part of a volunteer therapy dog group that comes to school once a week to read with kids, or rather, listen to kids read.
  
The "paws"-itive program provides children with a friendly listening audience.
  
"We often suggest reading to a pet or reading to a stuffed animal. So when we have volunteers that like to come into the school, it gives the children another opportunity to practice their reading," said literacy coach Louise Davis.

Third-grader Om Thirat is an avid reader who was wowed when she first met Tess.

"She's big," Thirat told NBC News.
 
Now Om's comfortable with her furry reading pal, which makes Tess' handler, Bonnie Smith, happy to keep coming back.

"They love Tess. And they really do develop a rapport week after week, and then they really get to know her, and you know, I get to know them as well. It's been a great experience for both of us," Smith said.
  
And as students read more, their confidence grows. 
  
"And we know that you get better at reading by reading, so this is just another opportunity for that to happen," Davis said.
 
As for Tess, she hasn't dog-eared any pages yet. 
  
"No, I can't say she has a favorite book. We've heard some funny stories, but I think she just likes hearing the children and being with the children," Smith said.

And though Tess might not have her nose in a book all the time, she's living the dog's life as a reading dog.

The therapy dog group says this is a trend that's catching on across the country. Dogs who are obedient to their handlers and easy-going around children are ideal for this type of program.

Posted by Logan Smith

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