Rosie's a great listener.
She doesn't judge, criticize or make
fun of anyone's mistakes.
Rosie is a 2-year-old Yorkshire terrier and a registered
therapy dog. A member of the Paws for READ
(Reading Education Assistance Dogs) program,
Rosie helps kindergarten through third-grade
students at improve their literary skills.
"The idea is to help children to want to read.
Rosie makes it a pleasant experience,” said Carol McAulty,
a dog trainer and handler for 20 years.
In Dodie Bedell's third-grade classroom, students
find a favored spot on the floor and sit in groups of two
and three. They take turns reading out loud to each
other. Several volunteers help out, but Rosie is their favorite.
"Rosie helps to calm and relax the students, especially
the ones with the fear of reading out loud,” Bedell said.
Rosie curled up on the lap of a girl with long
blonde hair and listened as she read.
With Rosie present, the shy readers begin to open up.
One of the students started by whispering the words of his
story. By the end of the session, he spoke normally.
Researchers have found children with low self-esteem are more
willing to read and interact with therapy animals than
with another person. Those children who've participated in
the program have stronger literacy skills and more confidence.
In addition, therapy dogs are required to complete a minimum
of 10 hours of supervised visits in two different therapy dog settings.
Rosie and McAulty keep a busy community schedule.
Together they make stops at a local hospital, a seniors housing
complex and the library.
To learn more about therapy dogs and their services,
go to www.therapyanimals.org or www.deltasociety.org.