Photo taken and adapted from READing Paws website
We all know about how powerful listening can be. And you might know that dogs are the most excellent listeners. But here’s something new about what amazing things can happen when a dog is listening.
I am seeing a real rise in the collective consciousness about dogs listening to stories and people reading to dogs. Yes, OK, I admit this could be because I’ve just set up a Google Alert for “reading to dogs”!
Anyway, while I wrote a book of stories for dogs with the original view that the book be in a way a dog toy – that your dog might even have a copy of their doggy storybook in their toy box and might even bring it to you to have a story read to them. (In the same way dogs bring us their other toys to play with – in Bubba’s case we are always presented with “Sheep” when there is any human hair-brushing going on, go figure …)
I now discover, thanks to Google Alert and the odd Google search that reading to dogs is a growing phenomenon practised by some surprising people.
People like volunteers at the RSPCA Radcliffe Animal Shelter who are reading to dogs as part of the RSPCA’s glorious “Read and Relax” program. The program was implemented by Assistant Manager Ella Herring to help settle rescue dogs and let them get used to calm, non-threatening people contact. Yes, reading dogs a story to help rehabilitate them! Makes complete sense to me.
It also apparently makes sense to UK Dog Training Expert, Carolyn Menteith who says reading to rescue dogs is a good idea.
I have already sent RSPCA Radcliffe a copy of Beef Casserole for the Dog’s Soul, of course. I do hope other animal shelters pick up on this initiative. I think reading to dogs is a wonderful way for volunteers to give rescue dogs some loving in a quiet, deep way and agree wholeheartedly with Ms Menteith’s sensitive comments.
Then there’s READing Paws – a magnificent initiative by Merilee P. Kelley. READing Paws’ Mission is to improve children’s literary skills – by using registered therapy dogs. The dogs listen to children reading aloud to help them with their reading skills. Reading to a dog is so much better than reading aloud to a) yourself or b) a person who might laugh or groan when you make a mistake.
Send a donation to READing Paws here. And, yes, I’ve sent two copies of Beef Casserole for the Dog’s Soul to READing Paws – one especially for the gorgeous Isabelle who I think is like a therapy dog ambassador. Isabelle excels at being read to by children! I’m sure adults as well as children line up to read to this divine creature! See the wftv.com report (including video) of Isabelle and her good work here. There’s also a photo slideshow of Isabelle being read to by various children which makes me feel really moved and teary. It’s a beautiful thing.
Now I see that Nickelodeon has an article about therapy dogs visiting libraries all over the US to help children learn to read.
I’m going to find out more about these marvelous initiatives and report back soon!