By Christine Layton
It’s the kind of concept that just makes sense when you see it. The idea is simple: kids to read to dogs as a way of readying them for their forever home while instilling a greater sense of empathy in the youngsters.
It all happens at the Humane Society of Missouri animal shelter where 6 to 15 year olds are trained on how to read a dog’s body language to tell whether they are stressed or anxious.
The kids are then encouraged to sit in front of a shy dog’s kennel and read to them.
“Ideally that shy and fearful dog will approach and show interest. If so, the kids re-enforce that behaviour by tossing them a treat,” said program director Jo Klepacki.
“What this is also doing is to bring the animals to the front in case potential adopters come through. They are more likely to get adopted if they are approaching and interacting, rather than hiding in the back or cowering”.
The shelter has seen improvements in the shy dogs but also in the more energetic hounds with most children’s voices having a calming effect on the dogs.
The children are also provided with a unique opportunity to practice their reading to a non-judgemental audience.
Once the children have completed the 10 hour training program, they are welcome to come back and read to the dogs at any time.
I’d love to see this happen in Perth, wouldn’t you?
Three cheers to the Humane Society of Missouri!