Read dogs: nonjudgmental greyhounds that listen to kids reading

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52 Responses to “Read dogs: nonjudgmental greyhounds that listen to kids reading”

  1. reallystrangegirl says:

    The Framingham Public Library in Framingham, Massachusetts has a reading to dogs program too.

  2. halle says:

    A non-profit in parts of Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania & New Jersey does this, as well:

    http://www.pawsforpeople.org/

    (I’m admittedly biased; my mom’s on the board.)

  3. durfsmurf says:

    I dunno. The way that dog is rolling his eyes…

  4. missamo80 says:

    I’ve I’ve been doing this with my yellow lab for years, as part of the Reading With Rover program in Seattle. Typically we do visits at local bookstores, but there’s a group that help out at one of the local schools. The whole program was recently featured on a local newsmagazine show: http://www.king5.com/on-tv/evening-magazine/Reading-with-Rover-116769389.html.

  5. wolfiesma says:

    Oh, very cool! Anything that removes the judgemental adult from the picture is a good thing. Animal puppets work great toward that end, as well. Kids that would usually prefer someone read to them, but are perfectly capable of doing it themselves, will often give in to a whiney dinosaur or monkey that begs them to read with a beseeching, “Oh, please please please please please!” You end up sounding like an idiot, but, it does get the kids to read.

  6. phisrow says:

    I’m seeing a straight-to-DVD Disney cash-in where an-ultra patient greyhound, a small child whose rich imagination the adult world doesn’t understand, and a sarcastic and highly judgemental terrier all learn heartwarming lessons from one another…

  7. Boba Fett Diop says:

    “Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.”

  8. Hans Davies says:

    “When Danny goes to sleep I tell the children that he’s dreaming about their story.”

    That is the most beautiful thing I have ever heard and I’m tearing up and I should just go to sleep…

  9. Rainer says:

    Damn, what a beautiful thing for these children, I am very happy for them. I bet they walk away feeling great about themselves. These are the small moments that make big steps for better lives.

  10. Anonymous says:

    I am pretty surprised to see all the talk about hyper greyhounds. All the greyhounds I have know have, as other commenters said, pretty much done nothing for 18 hours at a time. True they go nuts when you let them outside, but most of the time they just lay around with about the same expression on their face as the dog in the picture. I guess this may be an age driven phenomenon, all the greyhounds I have know are former races and at least 6 years old………..

  11. Anonymous says:

    we have this program in the bay area, dogs are trained through the peninsula humane society. in fact, one of michael vick’s former dogs, now named Johnny Justice, is a library dog and a poster child for the program here. :)

  12. Anonymous says:

    Greyhounds are the best dogs! Kids love my family’s–they constantly think she’s a deer.

  13. ackpht says:

    A child will certainly be less inhibited in the presence of a dog than in the presence of an adult.

  14. The Mudshark says:

    Now that´s some cute shit right there.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Adorable! Hopefully the kids with beg their parents to adopt ex-racing greyhounds. There are too many unhomed greyhounds in rescue centres around the country, and they make brilliant pets!

    Try:
    http://www.retiredgreyhounds.co.uk/
    &
    http://www.tiagreyhounds.org.uk/

  16. technogeek says:

    A number of ex-stutterers — including James Earl Jones, if I remember correctly — have mentioned practicing on animals for much this reason.

    I just spent an hour this weekend reciting to one of my cats. Might have spent longer, but I couldn’t get up to get the reading material…

    • mdh says:

      I’ll vouch for that, first hand. It helps. I had a debilitating stutter through about age 20, but was always fluent when speaking to animals. I still stutter, it’s just rare for it to hold me up at all.

  17. ryane says:

    The school my son attends has a read to a dog program, but what i really love about this article, is the English use of the word scheme. We had a computer purchase program here, and my friends in the UK office had a computer purchase scheme. I always felt that they were getting away with something, like they were taking the computers and selling them out of a white van at a gas station.

  18. liamo says:

    The author of the article is Patrick Barkham

    Is life too friggin weird or what?

  19. DieFem says:

    This is extremely both cute and useful!. Wonderful idea, I will comment it to my mom (she is a teacher).

  20. funlovingsociopath says:

    The Fauves were right, Dogs Are The Best People.

  21. steverb says:

    I just want to know how they trained the dog to sit still that long. Our greyhound mix had the attention span of a caffeinated ferret.

    • chgoliz says:

      I think the operative word there is “mix”. Greyhounds are incredibly calm animals when they’re not chasing a small mammal (real or mechanical).

    • Anonymous says:

      operative word: MIX

    • jacques45 says:

      Most greyhounds have no problem lying down and staying there for hours. Mine sits around a good 18 hrs a day. They really only need a few minutes of exercise plus some walks and that’s enough to tire them out.

      • steverb says:

        Must have been the “mix” (Greyhound/Husky we think) that did it. Ours was hyper-active and nearly ran our other dog (Shepherd/Chow mix) to death. We ended up having to find him a new home.

        • chgoliz says:

          Greyhound/Husky? OMFG. Words fail me. I can only imagine how those behavioral genes conflicted in every possible way.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Great article. We’ve also been doing this program at Halifax Public Libraries in Nova Scotia for a few years now, it’s called PAWS to Read and is one of our most popular children’s programs.

    • Anonymous says:

      Love your program name Paws to Read. I have a whippet who is a trained therapy dog and am planning on taking him into the local primary school here in Bellingen, Australia soon. May I use the name of your program too?

      Cheers
      Anne Graham

  23. Anonymous says:

    New part-time job opportunity for students?
    Skills required:
    a) “quietly listening to completely uninteresting speech while appearing marginally alert over prolonged periods of time”
    b) “a non-allergenic coat of hair (optional but highly desirable)”

  24. Anonymous says:

    Ottawa (Canada) libraries have been doing a similar things and it looks like it’s a wonderful success! They also use the Reading Education Assistance Dogs (READ) program. My 4-year old absolutely loved reading a kid’s book about knights and castles to Zip, a beautiful retriever that looked at him kindly the whole time.

    What Ottawa is doing: http://www.ottawatherapydogs.ca/programs/read.php
    The main program (linked in the article, but I’ll put it here for future reference and extra Google points!): http://www.therapyanimals.org/R.E.A.D.html

  25. abulafia says:

    That dog is wearing your cape Cory!!!

  26. anatidaeling says:

    And here’s what to read to them. :)
    Stories You Can Read to Your Dog

  27. Stefan Jones says:

    You can’t do this with Border collies.

    They keep interrupting to correct the kids’ pronunciation.

  28. Horace Rumpole says:

    You’ll notice they’re not doing this with cats. Judgmental bastards.

    • pffft says:

      funny

      what about fish? reptiles?

    • WeightedCompanionCube says:

      Cats do have the ability to sleep …i mean… listen patiently while you read to them, but they will insist on doing it atop whatever you are trying to read.

      Manooshi – Greys make great apartment dogs. They’ll happily be couch potatoes 18 hours of the day until you take them for a walk. In fact, considering greyhounds have been known to seriously injure themselves by hitting something at 45MPH while taking off after something outdoors…Going for walks vs. being off-leash in a yard is probably better.

    • Varekai says:

      Imagine if they tried it with rabbits. The disapproval would be terrifying!

      I heard of a library that does this where the kids can “check out” the dog for a half hour period, using a “bark code”.

    • Brainspore says:

      You’ll notice they’re not doing this with cats. Judgmental bastards.

      Cats are also notorious for bad spelling and grammar.

  29. phenocopy says:

    My aunt teaches special ed in Kansas, and she brings her well-behaved dog to class on Fridays. It’s considered quite an honor to get to read to the dog, which I believe is a wire-haired…something.
    She took him to training classes for 3 months or so before he passed the test to be a “therapy dog,” which was the certification required before he could go with her to public school.

  30. floraldeoderant says:

    I think my gf’s reaction is the correct one: “I’m torn between ‘awwww’ and being sad that they can’t find a non-judgmental adult to listen to them”.

    • TooGoodToCheck says:

      I was still thinking about your comment when I had an experience with my daughter who’s five – she sounded out a word, and I said something like “that’s right, you got it” and at that moment I realized the true meaning of the dog being nonjudgmental – it doesn’t just mean that the dog isn’t harshing on the kid. It means that the dog is truly providing acceptance, with absolutely zero feedback on the reading, which I think is something that a dog will be able to achieve much much more easily than a human.

      Even if I were to try to condition myself to provide no reinforcement at all – positive or negative – I still suspect that my facial expressions would give away some trace of “that was right” or “that was not”. And I think there’s definitely a place for that – for an adult to teach a child how to read. But I think the real benefits of the dog – of having someone just. . . listen, and nothing more – that would be quite difficult for a person.

    • abstract_reg says:

      Am I the only one who reacted to this with “Stop torturing the poor dogs with children’s poor reading skills!”?

  31. Thomas Gokey says:

    Check out Ace the Library Dog: http://www.nopl.org/ace

    Literally check him out. Ace is a part of the the Northern Onondaga Public Library’s collection complete with his own bar code. He’s similar to a READ dog but what we’ve found is that people want to do so much more with dogs.

    Some people check him out just to pet him, some check him out because they are thinking about adopting a dog and want a “test run” with the kids to get them practice on how to treat a dog. Some kids want to learn about animal behaviorism and practice teaching him new tricks. And of course some read to him and he especially likes helping kids who have difficulty reading and are too shy to practice reading with people.

  32. Lobster says:

    That dog looks bored. :(

  33. giblfiz says:

    This used to be a big trend with programmers until they figured out that they could upgrade to a cardboard dog, and it worked just as well…
    http://www.sjbaker.org/humor/cardboard_dog.html

  34. Tané Tachyon says:

    Santa Cruz has a program like this as well: http://www.santacruzpl.org/kids/blog/2010/dec/21/tales-tails/

  35. Manooshi says:

    I love Greyhounds. I’ve always thought that they are the most beautiful and graceful of all dogs. I hope to have one some day if I live in a house with a yard for it to be able to go outside and run around.

    I hope the dog pictured above is not totally bored.

  36. Anonymous says:

    Greyhounds are fantastic listeners… and sleepers. Among the most graceful and beautiful of dogs.

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