Readers of the Pack

Stephanie Kelley
“Readers of the Pack” is a pilot project from DunRoamin’ Stray and Rescue to encourage kids to read.

Angie Hovey reads “Sun and Moon” to Mya Williams as  Gidget the Australian Shepard listens approvingly to the story!

Angie Hovey reads “Sun and Moon” to Mya Williams as
Gidget the Australian Shepard listens approvingly to the story!

In this exciting project, a trained handler accompanied by a certified dog visits classrooms and libraries

to allow kids to read to the dog. Using the dog as a buffer, kids can read out loud without fearing any judgement they might expect from adults.

This program is proving to be a resounding success, and a win/win situation for kids and dogs alike.
Because this is a DunRoamin’ project, all of the certified dogs used in the program are rescued animals that have come from a shelter.

This gives these dogs an opportunity to show their quality, and how they can give back to the community.
The project began late last year at Andover Elementary when a handler would come to the grade 2 class once a week.

Once school let out for the summer, the project moved to the Perth-Andover Public Library where a dog and handler are currently coming twice a week, on Mondays and Wednesdays, to meet with kids.

Last Wednesday DunRoamin’ volunteer Angie Hovey came to the library with Gidget, a 6 year old Australian Shepard who had ended up at the animal shelter. She lives with Angie and John now, on their farm.
She has been certified as a therapy dog, and is a delight to visit with. The kids think so too…. Angie told me that last year they’d been attending the school for the weekly reading program for several months, when, on the last day, one of the students who was completely covered with dog hair glued on by drool said to Angie, “I didn’t get your name….who are you?”

The kids’ relationship with the dog had completely eclipsed Angie’s presence in the room!

During Angie and Gidget’s Wednesday visit, Gidget first visited with Alex Burgoyne as he read her a book. Then it was time for Mya’s visit. Mya is 3 years old, and she was a bit shy at first as she is not real familiar with dogs.

Mya selected a book for Angie to read, and as Mya listened to the story and experienced Gidget’s calm demeanour she got confident enough to leave her mother’s side and she inched closer to Gidget moment by moment.

Angie told her all about Gidget, and her life. Mya learned that Gidget’s very most favourite thing in the world is bacon, and her best friend on the farm is Randy the Rooster.

She is also very good friends with the rescued feral cat colony that lives in the barn. These cats are very timid of humans, but they regard Gidget as just one of the guys!

Before she left, Mya gave Gidget a kiss on the top of her head!

DunRoamin’ would like eventually to have dog and human teams going to every library and school in Victoria and Carleton counties.

Alex Burgoyne gives Gidget a goodbye cuddle after his reading session

Alex Burgoyne gives Gidget a goodbye cuddle after his reading session

You can volunteer for this program if you have a shelter dog. Your dog will go through a qualification process in order to be accepted. This is ensure that they are calm and unflappable and totally kid friendly.

Gidget lets kids roll on her, and loves to be hugged and kissed. Shelter dogs come from our communities. They ended up in a shelter because someone gave up on them, and this program offers them a chance to show the quality of dogs that end up in shelters.

This also provides kids with exposure to calm and friendly dogs, as well as giving them the opportunity to read to someone who will hang on their every word and adore them!
DunRoamin’ always needs good foster homes. (And kitty litter. There is just never enough kitty litter at the shelters!)

Rescued animals need a home to go to, sometimes to recover from whatever trauma they suffered, and to learn how to be an amazing pet for their forever home.
These animals should get to experience human kindness, and a foster home is the first step on their journey.

Go to: DunRoamin’ Stray and Rescue to contact the shelter and learn more about fostering or adopting.

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