Tuesday, February 21, 2012


Kids Love to Read…to Dogs!

Have you ever seen a child reading out loud to a dog?

Recently, the Independent Therapy Dogs, Inc. brought their Ruff Reader Program to Clairemont's own John Muir School.  The program helps children improve their reading skills and boosts self-esteem by giving them 1-on-1 time to read aloud to a therapy dog.  Because therapy dogs help soothe and calm students, they learn faster and achieve better grades.

Independent Therapy Dogs, Inc. was founded by Shirley Colman, Michele Koonin and Joan Powell to meet the growing need for therapy dog visits.  ITD, Inc.  is a California non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation and recognized as one of the American Kennel Club's approved organizations for therapy dogs.  

The student, dog and handler sit together while the student reads a book they selected out loud to the dog.  Dogs are great listeners; they don’t interrupt, and they are non-judgmental.  It doesn’t matter if the words are hesitant, faltering, mispronounced, or completely fluent, the canine audience is captivated!  

Moriah Alexander and Godiva, her Beagle mix, visit both Ms. Hundley’s 3rd grade and Ms. Waller’s 2/3 combo class, while Shirley Colman and Davy, her American Cocker Spaniel, visit Ms. Sorini’s 2nd grade class.

Students are invited to snuggle with or pet the dog while they read.  "Godiva really does seem to calm the students as they read to her and stroke her soft fur... it is so amazing!” observes teacher, Barb Waller.  

What is actually going on?  Studies show that reading to a dog, rather than to an adult or to a peer significantly decreases a child’s stress about reading, creating a more relaxing environment, resulting in a more positive reading experience.  In turn, a more positive attitude about reading increases fluency.  Children also have a natural affinity and empathy for animals which helps make this an event to look forward to.

There are many ways for the Clairemont community to be a part of our organization:  You and your dog can become one of our therapy dog Teams, or you can become a 'dog-less' member to help during special events, or by becoming a Community Partner by donating supplies, services or funds to help our organization continue to help others throughout our communities.  Please visit us at https://sites.google.com/site/idtdinc/   .

If you are interested in becoming a therapy dog team for the “Ruff” Reader Program at John Muir School, or if you have any questions or comments about the program, please email Moriah Alexander at mlle_m4@att.net  or speak with her when you see her at school.  With up to 26 kids in the lower elementary classes John Muir School can definitely use more trained Teams to help students!

PICTURE CAPTION/CALLOUT: 3rd grader Megan Gerjets rests her hand on Godiva’s back as she reads from “The Hundred Dresses”.  

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