Did you know that reading to dogs can help improve the reading abilities of children who may be struggling in this field? And what could be better than curling up with a dog to read a good book? We wanted to be able to provide this resource for children in our area. Take a look at our reading program, Waggy Tales!
Several years ago, our service dog program began offering the most amazing opportunity. What began as a summer reading program quickly became a weekly necessity as the instructors and principal of our local elementary school easily became aware of the astounding benefits this program had for so many children. Every Tuesday, the service dog candidates of Highland Canine Training’s Assistance Dogs for Autism program get all dressed up in their vests to offer a reading program to the children of Union Grove Elementary School. This reading program has been named Waggy Tales, in honor of the children who read tales to our pups to make their tails wag.
Every Tuesday at 9 AM, a line of service dogs in training march through the hallways of the elementary school and arrive at their designated room. This welcoming room sports bean bag chairs, a warm atmosphere, and plenty of books. The dogs and their handlers each take a station then the excitement begins! Children begin filing into the room with big grins on their faces and their favorite books in their hands. They choose their favorite dog and have a seat. Some children wish to give the dog a treat first while other jump right into their stories. It’s so important to the kids to teach these dogs all the words they have been learning. And if they get stuck on a difficult word? The dog’s handler helps them work through it!
Not only does this reading program offer opportunities for children to practice their reading but it also creates avenues for all types of learning. The children practice interaction with the professional trainers and handlers of the service dogs in our program. They learn about the important jobs these dogs are being trained for and how to handle themselves when they see these dogs at work. The are educated on appropriate interaction with dogs as well as the care and maintenance training of each service dog candidate. The learning opportunities are endless and the benefits we have witnessed never cease to amaze us.
Our mission for our reading program Waggy Tales is to create a fun, inviting environment free of judgment where children can become comfortable reading. Dogs are friends who never snicker when a mistake is made. They never tire of the children stuttering and they provide comfort through nervousness. The students and staff of Union Grove Elementary recently gifted us with a book Madeline Finn and the Library Dog by Lisa Papp. In this heartwarming book, young Madeline Finn struggles with reading until she meets Bonnie, a therapy dog at the local library’s reading program. She learns that Bonnie never minds how long it takes her to read a story and she never giggles or makes fun of Madeline when she makes a mistake. We want every child at Union Grove Elementary to meet “their Bonnie”, a dog who will help them through the learning curve and push them into progress as they grow. Additionally, we wish to encourage knowledge and understanding of service dogs, their handlers, the important training and assistance these dogs offer, and the unconditional love and comfort they provide.
If you are involved in a school, library, or other type of organization dedicated to the advancement of children and wish to start up a reading program with our service dogs in training, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call at 704.500.8281.
We also offer other types of educational experiences for adults and children. If you are interested in our other opportunities, we would be more than happy to speak with you!
Our dog trainers and handlers want to extend a thank you to the wonderful staff and students of Union Grove Elementary as we start another wonderful year of Waggy Tales. We are so grateful to be a part of such a noble program and we are proud to be Union Grove Tigers. Here’s to all the stories and accomplishments we will create together this year!